There are various theories explaining the development of discipline and obedience in early childhood. Montessori perspective establishes a link between these two concepts and how their maturation is dependent on the maturation of the will of the child. This essay will attempt to explain the relationship between discipline and obedience in the developmental stages of a child. Attention will be paid to how the environment helps the child in his development through the stages according to Montessori.
According to Oxford dictionary, ‘to discipline is to train to obey rules and code of conduct, using punishment to correct disobedience’. In the traditional sense of discipline much emphasis ...view middle of the document...
‘The basic error is to suppose that a person’s will must necessarily be broken before it can obey, meaning before it can accept and follow another person’s directions’ (Montessori, p 235). From the definitions above it is clear that the development of the will of the child precedes obedience and the child relies on this maturation of the will to develop his internal discipline.
Discipline and obedience in a Montessori perspective can be discussed in an atmosphere of freedom. Children are active learners in the right environment. Thus a favourable environment which is ‘ the sum total of the objects which a child can freely choose and use as he pleases, that is to say, according to his needs and tendencies’ (Montessori 2007, P 65)bolsters the child’s inner need to explore and investigate, supports a child natural’s quest to learn and grow. This freedom not only allows the child to progress in his or her own pace; it also fosters the child’s inner discipline.
A child’s freedom as explained to him from the beginning of his life in a Montessori class is liberating. The child has freedom to (inter alia) choose activities, repeat activities, movement, speech and rest. As this child chooses activities according to his own interest and repeats these activities he learns to know himself better and he finds his inner discipline and calmness through increased concentration and a sense of independence. Through self- discipline, the child is in better control of himself and he is able to sublimate his own will for that of others. In this regard, Montessori asserts that ‘an individual is disciplined when he is the master of himself and when he can, as a consequence, control himself when he must follow a rule of life’ (Montessori 2007b, P 51).
A teacher’s role is central in the prepared environment. The teacher is the custodian of the environment to ensure order is maintained and through careful selection of activities, the child can expect some level of consistency and predictability. These factors are important in supporting the child’s sensitivity to order. ‘Order is one of the needs of life, which when it is satisfied, produces a real happiness.’ (Montessori 1966, P52). Secondly, the Montessori Teacher sets the ground rules for the prepared environment. These ground rules help the child’s understanding of what is acceptable and what is not and guide the child’s emerging will toward socially acceptable behaviour.
Ordinarily, an individual is unable to obey an instruction unless he has the ability. A child grows in his ability to grow as his will matures. The maturation of child from birth to age six, in Absorbent Mind plane of development (Montessori, 2007a) culminates in the full control of a child’s own will. From birth to age three, the child is controlled by his inner drive towards independence, referred to as the ‘Horme ’(Montessori, 2007a).
It marks the beginning of the personality creation, when the child absorbs and...