Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today's Children

You may need to get your reading glasses for this one- it's a fairly long article but a must read for parents, teachers & nannies.

My studies in Montessori taught me allot about life, child development & education in the early years of life. I truly believe in the Montessori philosophy in following the child and their sensitive periods of life.
Here's a link for you to read, if you would like to know more about Dr Maria Montessori's philosophy. - also on

As an Early childhood Montessori teacher, I thought to share this article from my latest Montessori magazine.
(volume 22, number 4, winter edition.
( article written by Kathy carey)

The Child, first published in 1941, Montessori describes what she terms "errors of the past" :
  1. Seeing the child only as 'future being'
  2. Showing no regard for the child as a child
  3. Neglecting the real needs of the child
  4. Forcing the child to conform to adult standards   - (Montessori,1974/1941,p.2-7)
She refers to the resulting conditions as "moral malnutrition and intoxcication of the spirit... as fatal for the soul of man as physical malnutrition  is for the health of his body." Montessori concludes that the education of children  "is the most improtant problem of humanity". This problem is to be solved by ceating enviroments suitable to the child's station ad amendable to his needs.
Montessori experienced personally the strife and turmoil of two world wars; the world she left in 1952 was as different from today as it was from the early 1900s. One wonders what she would say about the child of the 21st century.
That child may be indulged,spoiled, ignored, or abandoned to the care of strangers or the neighbourhood. If one looks closely at preteens and adolescents, they mimic one another and the adult world of bling & sexual fashion, not to mention sexual or sexualized behaviour. Children living in poverty are as likely to wear expensive athletic shoes as are their more well-off peers but just as rarely put them to work on a court or a playing field. According to a Keiser Family foundation survey.

With technology allowing nearly 24 hr media access as children & teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with certain entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth. Today, 8-18yr olds devote an average of 7 hrs and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hrs a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking'  (using more than one media at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10hrs and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7 and a half hrs.(

And, perhaps more disturbing, children from birth to 8 yrs are primed for this new world by early exposure to media:

Accoring to the Keiser family Foundation , in 2005, in a typical day 61% of 0-1 yr olds used some type of screen media,  88% of 2 - 43 yr olds did so,and 90%  of 4-6 yr olds also used some type of screen media. Screen media includes tv's videos's, dvd's, computers, and video games.

Cell phones, now available with many and varied applications, including internet access rife with advertising, have become almost a requirement of childhood.
The use of the term 'own' is misleading as children in the USA at leastt, own through their parents; however ownership implies use at the will of the owner. 
In addition, the importance of brands is is easily recognizable in children, from tee shirts and dresses representing media figures to athletic wear emblazoned with team logos.
Marketers understand the power of symbols and models and introduce children early & often to images and to the brands these images represent:

Children reprensent three different markets. In addition to the direct money that children spend and the money they influence, children also represent a third major market and perhaps the most significant and that is the future market.

Children come to school including preschool & kindergarten, already well educated through a variety of media. The clothes they wear, the foods they eat, the way they walk, talk, hold their bodies, and feel about themselves- all are profoundly influenced by media images,including ads.

Or Children, thus it seems, run the risk of embodying the 4 errors of the past that  Montessori hoped to erase. She recognised that the community of children,that is, al our children, require protection from the pressures and lures of the adult world so that they might develop themselves, each with unique potential, to the fullest 

Her canon of education was and is that children have the right to thsi time & space, not as representations of their parents or fodder for a craven society, but as real people with rich inner lives and souls bent upon creating real meaning in living.
For it is in living that we are educated and through education that we learn how to live. 
Thus, we must be wary of the models we present and of the lessons we teach, lest we perpetuate these errors.


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