Please quote and mention me if you’d like to use any parts of this summary. I cannot teach you how to be a decent person, but I hope you’re aware that what you do reflects who you are as a person. Plagiarism is a serious ethical offense.
In the second chapter of the Absorbent Mind, Montessori proposed an idea about what education should be and how it is different with the reality. She argues that the current education system does not help solve social problems since they both seem to exist on different realms. Education seems to be isolated from life and society. She then offers some remedies for this situation: she believes that education should defend life and protect human development from birth by making life itself as the center of education.
Montessori agrees with Gandhi that education is preparation for life. It should focus on protecting life and helping people maintaining theirs. It should enable people to depend on themselves and stand on their feet. Education should also contribute to the life of society and support the development of civilization. It should care about people and have something to offer to solve social problems. To achieve this, we must first realize and understand the reality of education we have now and work together to fix its flaws.
First, the current education system places the emphasis on syllabus and academic performance. Students have to follow the curriculum and learn at the pace they may not even be comfortable with. A child goes to school to learn how to read, write, and count. It is perfectly acceptable to ignore his mental development in order to get him to become literate. However, literacy is only one of the means to be educated. Literacy alone is not the purpose of education. When a child goes home after school, education should enable him to do things for himself, such as self-care and practical life activities. It should help him survive and find or create a job after leaving university. It should help him grow becoming a man who is able to take care of his life. It should also enable him to become a responsible and helpful member of society.
When education fails, a child may find himself able to read, write, and count, yet he cannot take care of himself. Once he graduates from university, he realizes that he lacks the soft skills he needs to survive in the real world. He still depends on his parents to support himself and he does not know how to socialize with others. If he cannot find the job he wants, he cannot think of a creative solution and he may end up becoming unemployed. As we know, the raise of unemployment could lead to other social problems such as homelessness, crimes, and mental illness like depression.
Consequently, education should not limit itself to curriculum and schedule. It must confirm to the facts of life. It is important build a curriculum which supports a child’s development. It should let him learn and study at his own pace. This shall lead to a fun learning experience, where he can enjoy the process. Parents and teachers should be willing to act as the unsung heroes, humbling themselves to learn how to educate without sacrificing their child’s happiness. Therefore, we need to shift the focus of education, from syllabus and lesson plans to helping children prepare for their lives.
Secondly, what happens now is that education is kept apart from society and social care. Since it focuses on academic achievement, it completely ignores students’ psychological and social aspects. If a student does not have enough food at home, it is not something a school should concern. If a child is not happy with the learning environment or if he is being forced and abused at home to pass the exam with flying colors, it is not the school’s problem, either. What it cares about is that this student follows all the school’s rules and studies diligently.
Montessori, on the other hand, believes that education should care about a child’s psyche. It needs to care about his mental development. If his soul is fulfilled, he will grow up becoming a mentally-stable man with great potential. Montessori also thinks that education should go hand in hand with social life. There should be some outside power to enforce this modification.
A proper care must be taken by the government to improve education which protects and defends life. It needs to invest heavily on children’s education and welfare. Be it making and imposing the laws, subsidizing schools, or maximizing the national budget on education, the government must actively find ways to support and protect the lives of children, including those who are of pre-school age and infants. Parents and society should also take their parts in raising a child and protect his life. If a child’s parents are not able to provide him with a proper life and good education, society must find a way to help him. The child needs special help from society to build a proper man.
A mother produces a child, but it is the child who will become a man. Children build humanity and civilization. We must realize that the secret to better society and civilization lies in the hands of children. They have the power to absorb their environment and shape themselves for the future. An Indian child raised in an American family will speak English and act like Americans. In other words, we must create the best environment where a child lives and grows.
In conclusion, to support the development of future generation, Montessori argues that a revolution in education must take place. Education needs to start from birth and it should eliminate every violence. Only when the human soul is free from oppression and restraints, it can reach its full potentialities.