Friday, April 16, 2010

A Missed Opportunity in The Montessori Language

Today was the first day of gardening at my Montessori school, and everyone was very excited. A had stepped out to buy a few more things we needed before we began, but some of us were a bit too excited to wait. "Andrew," K's son (it's so weird to make up names! Haha!), a first year, asked several times to get his shovel from the shed, and when the answer was still, "No," he began to get frustrated. K was sitting in a chair helping a student organize her work, and Andrew, in anger, pushed with all his might on the K's chair, perhaps it was to knock her out of it, but at least he wasn't pushing her, I suppose. "Andrew, please go the the peace pillow right now," was the response he got from her, and he obediently stormed to the corner where the pillow was waiting for him.

A returned soon with all of the supplies, and Andrew was able to join his classmates in bringing them in from the car. He was clearly still not at his best, but I could tell he was working hard on keeping his emotions under control. The first thing that needed to be done was assembling the wheel barrow from the box. There were two bolts that screwed the handles to the body, four students this day, but only one wrench to get the nuts onto the bolts. Two students took turns screwing the nut onto one side, and then K began to work on the other.

"Can I have a turn with the wrench?" Andrew asked K.

"Yes, in a moment."

She had been working on it for a moment already, and kept working as she spoke. The bolt wasn't very long, and Andrew wouldn't get a very long turn if she kept going. "Shelly," K's daughter, the oldest of the class, a third year, must have noticed this at the same time I did, for she giggled and said something to the effect of, "You'll get one turn, Andrew. You only asked for a turn!"

Just then, a thought came into my mind: Shelly, Andrew is feeling frustrated right now, so we need to be especially gentle towards him.

But I didn't speak. I did not say these kind words that had formed in my mind, and the moment quickly passed.

At first, I was frustrated at myself for not speaking. This was a time to step up and say something helpful towards people that needed guidance, and I did not provide the guidance, though I had the guidance to give. How terrible of me to keep peaceful thoughts towards others to myself when others would have benefited more from them.

In hindsight, however, I might have been too hard on myself. I have only been in this environment for a short while, and I can't be expected to master the kind way of the Montessori language immediately. At this time, it is enough to merely have these words in my mind. Next time, I will speak them.

Andrew, thankfully, did not respond to his sister's remark. He gave her a short, angry stare, kept his mouth closed, and let it pass.