There were papers strewn all over the classroom for the last couple of days. I wondered why the children had not been filing their work papers. However, I made a deliberate effort to not address the problem, but waited for the children to bring it up themselves. It finally happened at the end of the week during the class meeting. Two of the children stood up and questioned the whole group, “Why are there so many unfiled papers lying around?”. What followed was an outpouring of opinions, complaints and confessions, and within a few minutes of the whole class discussion, they came up with the root cause of the problem.
The punching machine that was supposed to sit on a tray in a particular spot kept moving around!
Elementary children are problem solvers, they are quite capable of finding solutions to everyday situations – a broken clothesline, a messy shelf, conflicts between friends. They are also capable of looking at the big picture, see problems in the community and come up with solutions for them. They are a perfect blend of intelligence and creative thinking and at this age, they are enthusiastic and hard-working and have a desire to contribute. The thoughtful and logical ideas that they come up with during discussions, whether it is the day to day working of the school environment or matters as profound as farmers suicides in India or the world wide waste generation, have always amazed me. So true are Dr. Montessori’s words – ‘The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.’ (Education and Peace)
All that the children need is adults who trust them, give them freedom to think and act, and be there for guidance and support when needed.