|(A Montessori quick bite from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies)|
As adults we have built up layers of abstraction into an understanding that helps us navigate a complex world. What did our ancestors need to know of chlorophyll or the various spectra of reflected light? Entering the world anew, our ways of thinking may be useless, and actually add confusion. At worst, by imposing abstractions onto a child we may diminish their pleasure in exploring the world and subvert that natural science that children do best.
Abstractions are wonderful tools of the intellect, and sharing them with a child receptive to them can be joyful. Much of being a Montessori guide is learning to observe a child and understand best where their sensitivities lie. A book on photosynthesis might be perfect for one child, whereas another child may do best with an activity on the life cycle of the seed and yet another child might have her curiosity met by taking care of a classroom plant. In all cases, the concrete precedes the abstract; hence, a prism is a better tool for introducing the notion of spectra than a dry discourse.
Part of the challenge of being an educator is to unravel the cloth of our adult perceptions. We must see the world as a child in order to understand how to help them knit together their own understanding and mastery.
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