Humane bearings “Heart beats… for situations and thoughts” (Archived)

Many people in the Arab world may not know who ‘Maria Montessori’ is, she was one of the pillars of child education around the world, and here’s a short glimpse on her life’s story:

This lady was born in August 1870 in one of the Italian villages, known as a child that greatly loved serving and helping people, benefiting them and assisting the weak and poor, also known for her strong personality, and her determination in accomplishing what she thought righteous to her.

When she finished her high school education, she decided to register in medical school , which was unheard of and unaccepted back then, medical studies was restricted on women that time, and of course Maria’s application was refused to join medical school, but she never gave up and fought her case all the way up to the highest religious authority in Europe (The pope in Rome) she interviewed and argued with him until she convinced him, and nobody knows till this day what she have said exactly, but she became the first woman in Italy to be accepted in to a medical school, which she graduated from in 1896 as the first doctor in Italy.

Dr. Montessori worked in one of the hospitals in Rome, and one of her job assignments is to treat mentally challenged children, and her gift sparked in teaching, as she adopted means of explanatory methods to motivate and awaken all the child’s senses to assist him in learning, she also instilled principals of self respect and confidence and the love of knowledge, her fame spread throughout Rome, especially when she allowed her students to enter the same test admitted for healthy children in other schools, and where the results were astonishing since her ‘mentally challenged’ students scored better results than healthy and capable students of others schools, what the doctor did was considered a miracle, and since that day the look towards mentally challenged children was forever changed in Italy.

She was given an opportunity to apply her methods and curriculum on healthy students in one of the poor neighborhoods and results were also amazing, her school became a leading role-model, parents compete to submit their children to it, and her journey around the world started, writing, lecturing, teaching and opening schools for children with the same methods she applies in her schools all over.

In 1920 the Italian dictator ‘Mussolini’ admired her abilities and energy in education and her methods that were followed in her schools, only to assign her as an ‘Ambassador of Children’ but soon after Mussolini was angry at her because she refused his instructions to transform children to soldiers to serve his fascist goals and his occupational aspirations. And so, she closed all her schools in Italy and Germany, and burned her books in the streets, and then left to Spain then to India and continued to be an Ambassador for children around the world, opening schools wherever she went.

After the end of World War 2, she returned to Europe at the age of 81 years old when a big celebration for her took place in London, to which 27 countries sent its Ambassadors as an appreciation to this doctor and tribute her achievements, and after listening to her, Dr. Montessori scolded those who tribute her and her contributions, and told them that their words of praise do not rightfully belong to her, but to the rights of children, as they are the miracle makers.

And she said: “I am barely a figure pointing towards to a child, don’t look at the figure that points, but look at the one I am pointing at (The Child), if we want to help life we need to comprehend its laws, and the most important law is to look as the child as a special form of life, special in how they mainly work, to build the man, who’s going to become an adult man (or a woman) that stands everyday in their life looking at the child inside of them.

Dr. Montessori died at the age of 83 years old, and today there are thousands of schools that still applied her methods and curriculums and even carried her name, and there are hundreds of schools that graduate teachers specialized in teaching for those special schools, even millions have graduated from those schools, many which are creators, inventors and innovators who contributed in building their societies in different fields of life.

One of the principles of those schools is to respect the child, respect one self, plant self trust and encourage reflecting, wandering, research and work to discover areas of creation and positive energy in each child to encourage it, raise it, commit to it, and respect the distinction of each child and his difference from his colleagues.

And when I compare between the methods of teaching in those schools, and the methods followed in schools of our Arabic countries I become severely depressed, it was enough read in our newspapers between every now and then about a school teacher bleeds out the cheek of a student, to another that severely hits a female student and pulling her by the ear in front of her colleagues when she failed to solve a mathematical equation to be submitted in the hospital as a result from increased headaches and her infection, and many more stories as if they were never to have happened before!

How do we expect creativity from our children today, the men and women of tomorrow, when we crushed all factors of creativity and innovation in them?

All I ever wonder about when I read about such stories… Are we still in the Stone Age?