The Child’s Method

By Amira Nagati

   I dropped out of University in the graduation year. 

   I have to say that my auditory processing is the worst of all, I am mainly and dominantly a visual/kinesthetic person. More to say? For 14 years I succumbed to the national system of education, worrying every year that I wouldn’t be able to go on, having the picture of the years to come in the same ditch (years are actually made out of hours and moments, so “it’s only 3 years to go” doesn’t really work). Every rationalizing didn’t work. I started personal projects, researched, convinced myself that I was after knowledge, but eventually, it was all labelled “extra-curricular activities”. To me, this is as vulgar as a swear word, something like “extra-marital affairs”, in the end it is all about something that is “out” and secondary, and something that is “in” and primary, and they should never link, the secondary should never affect the primary, the secondary is non-committing, the primary is non-debatable… Such a schizophrenic way to be!

   I tried to rebel many times, one time in elementary school I lead a strike and we demanded changes that would respect our needs and interests, and to be treated humanly and not like a herd.  A few things changed to the better, but of course, what can a school do when there is a ministry and a curriculum to catch up with?  Teachers kept reproaching me stealthily, they said they were surprised, I was an A+ student, why would I need to complain? I was always being told that “you can do all you want and still give the society what it wants, we all have to pay to live the way we want. See? Studying doesn’t even take much of your time!” Guess what, it does… Isn’t it a shame? That education is such a bitter thing for people that they try to sugar-coat it? The dilemma that I must do something in a way that doesn’t fit how I function, and I would have to do it imperfectly and absently just for the sake of… of… of what? Oh. Other people. That, was such a pain to me that it was a rock blocking the flow of my life. I can safely say that I have a real phobia. It really does paralyse me. Me, who loves to learn and can only think of her life as a continuous line of learning experiences. No, I don’t want to graduate.. ever… I will always be the child with eyes wide with awe and curiosity to know all about this Universe.

Too much about me already, what about Montessori?

   Montessori scares people because of the subjectivity of the name, but Maria Montessori only said “Follow the Child.” The Montessori method is the child. We are the child’s followers, not the followers of Maria Montessori. She taught us many thing about the child, and her scientific approach and long years of research and experimenting to produce this method was laboursome and rich.

   My encounter with the Montessori method was purely coincidental, we had a reading lesson in high school about the first woman to enter the medicine school in Italy, that is Maria Montessori, and since I was trying to sugar-coat my painful school years, I was always researching. I searched for more about her, and I knew more about the Montessori method. I tried to read one of her books, The Discovery of the Child, the language was literary and somewhat difficult to me, I was just getting introduced to all of it. So I read articles about the method and the Children’s House. It captured my heart and I looked for courses, all I found was abroad. Several episodes in my life took me away from continuing my search.

   High school was over, I had to go to University. I implored my family to give me a chance to take one year living real life, out of this bubble called education. I was forced. But inside me I knew what I wanted. I spent the first 2 years searching for escape routes. One day in a cafe reading a magazine I found an article about a Montessori nursery in Cairo. With the last word my heart was ready to take off. I wrote down the info about the school and I contacted them, asking if there was any possibility that they could take me in for training. The great news was that I could actually get a certified Montessori diploma because the directress was giving an accredited course. There, started my wonderful journey with the Montessori world. I can’t count the times my eyes filled up with tears all the way through learning more about children and how they want to learn, my heart was squeezed many times to know that such education which I day-dreamed about during my school years is actually happening. I knew, that this was my mission in life.. Children..

   I am young, I know, 21 years old, and looking that it had been only 3 years that I am heart and soul into the Montessori [which is not right, by the way, it’s been 21 years that I am heart and soul into the “Montessori” : ) ] I might not seem like the perfect one to speak about it, but since I come freshly from the chains of the other system, I can give this close comparison and relate well to those of you who are still exploring the method. It is not easy, we need to open our minds and forsake our preconceptions.

   For the answer of the question, why I dropped out…. I won’t waste one more second compromising, it becomes a life-binding habit :)

    Welcome to the world of the Child.

 Amira

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