What does this term “Normalization” mean? Normalization is a term that causes a great deal of confusion and some concern among many new Montessori Parents. Normalization is indeed not the best choice of words! It suggests that we are going to help children who are not normal to become “normal. ” This is definitely not what Maria Montessori meant. Normalization is Montessori’s name for the process that takes place in Montessori classrooms around the world, through which young children learn to focus their intelligence, concentrate their energies for long periods, and take tremendous satisfaction from their work.
In his book, Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E. M. Standing described the following characteristics of normalization in the child between the age of three and six: • A love of order • A love of work • Profound spontaneous concentration • Attachment to reality • Love of silence and of working alone • Sublimation of the possessive instinct • Obedience • Independence and initiative • Spontaneous self-discipline • Joy • The power to act from real choice and not just from idle curiosity
Kay Futrell in her classic little book, The Normalized Child, describes Dr. Montessori’s amazement when the 60 frightened and ill-disciplined inner-city children of her first Children’s House began to respond to the new environment. “What followed seemed incredible even to Dr. Montessori, for the deprived children blossomed under this freedom, and the possibility of doing work suited to their needs. They revealed to her not only their enormous capacity for intellectual accomplishment, but a strange character of sweetness and serenity.
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They displayed a truly uncorrupted spirit, scorning rewards and punishment, and finding their joy in the prodigious work which involved them. They came from these labours refreshed, as from a creative experience, and as they worked, they grew in inner discipline and peace. The sight of these children, who displayed the truly “normal” characteristics of childhood, was the force which motivated Maria Montessori for the remainder of her life.
This secret of childhood she pursued with great vitality, and from her tireless observations and efforts, evolved her perception of the child’s psychic personality. As she travelled from country to country, lecturing, training teachers, helping to establish school after school, this same phenomenon was observed wherever conditions promoting its growth were perfectly realized. This normalized child is the image which Montessori teachers keep uppermost in their minds. This is what we are striving for, what we hope to achieve.
However, this child will only appear if we conscientiously prepare ourselves and our classrooms and if we can build on the proper preparation in the child’s home. Normalization is another word for what we call Montessori’s JOYFUL Scholars! What Outcomes Can We Look for If We Give Our Child a Montessori Education? Here are eight primary aspects we normally find in children who have grown up with a Montessori education: • Academic Preparation: Montessori prepares students both for higher education and for life.
On an academic level, Montessori helps students attain skills that allow them to become independently functioning adults and life-long learners. • Intrinsic Motivation: Innate desire drives Montessori children to engage in activities for enjoyment and satisfaction. • Internalized Ground Rules and the Ability to Work with External Authority: Montessori students are normally comfortable with ground rules that set the boundaries for their interactions within the school community.
Because these ground rules become internalized, Montessori students normally learn to behave appropriately whether or not teachers are present. • Social Responsibility: Montessori children tend to be quite sensitive to the rights and needs of others. They tend to make a positive contribution to their community. • Autonomy: Montessori students tend to become self-directed, composed and morally independent. • Confidence and Competence: Montessori students tend to become confident, competent, self-reflective, and, thereby, successful.
They are generally not afraid of failure and learn from mistakes. • Creativity and Originality of Thought: Montessori students normally become confident in expressing their own ideas and creativity. They recognize the value of their own work, respect the creative process of others and are willing to share their ideas regardless of the risk of rejection. Montessori students tend to take great satisfaction in self-expression. • Spiritual Awareness: Montessori students are often exceptionally compassionate, empathetic, and sensitive to the natural world and the human condition.
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