The word discipline connotes a negative image of a strict caregiver enforcing rules upon a child to instill order. It gives one the impression that discipline has to be exerted forcefully upon a person. This differs greatly from the Montessori perspective of discipline being created from within a child rather then being imposed from the outside.
Discipline rises naturally within a child when s/he is given freedom within limits. Montessori says that freedom in intellectual work is found to be the basis of internal discipline.
Montessori believed that the first dawning of real discipline comes through work. When a child becomes engaged in work with great interest, the intensity showing in his/her face and preservers in repeating the activity, the child has set foot upon the road to discipline. (Montessori, 1967)
“The discipline we are looking for is active…… We claim that an individual is disciplined when he is a master of himself and when he can, as a consequence, control himself when he must follow a rule of life." (Montessori, 1988a, p. 49)
Obedience in many educational practices practiced in Asian like Chinese medium schools in Malaysia for example where the cane is freely used to discipline a child, advocates suppressing the child’s will to be substituted by the will of the teacher suggesting that one consider breaking a child’s will.
Obedience says Montessori develops in stages as do other human characteristics. “In our children……it shows itself spontaneously and unexpectedly at the end of a long process of maturation." (Montessori, 1988a, p. 257) “At first it is dictated purely by the hormic impulse, then it rises to the level of consciousness, and thereafter it goes on developing, stage by stage, till it comes under the control of the conscious will." (Montessori, 1988a, p. 257)
There are three stages of obedience that a well developing child will go through according to Montessori. The first level is one where he is guided purely by the...
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