Question: Explain the relationship between discipline and obedience from the Montessori perspective. Explain how discipline and obedience are linked to the development of the will.
Maria Montessori (1988) believed that the discipline of a child is something to come, not something that is already present. It means discipline must be stimulated, observed and let it grow by itself. How to start stimulating or awakening discipline inside a child? Montessori says, " 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, 1997, p. 51).
To awaken the child's inner energy to become disciplined, the teacher's role is needed in order to prepare and observe the child to develop his/her inner discipline. Due to the social environment challenges, child has developed a defensive character which covers his/her real nature that is actually could lead him/her to become disciplined. This is the main obstacle to awaken the child's discipline. Therefore school must be able to help the child's spirit to expand and show its powers. Child should have freedom to follow his/her own course and let him/her to free himself/herself and regain the nature that enables him/her to become disciplined. The teacher's main task is to prepare the environment that is needed, provide the means and remove the obstacles to become discipline.
In this case teacher is only obliged to observe the children, without being noticed by them, when they are doing the correct thing, which is parallel with their skill perfection process. In case children do things that are destructive and asocial, then teacher has to interfere. Therefore it is essential for teacher to discuss the ground rules with the children, which should be observed by all.
Within a prepared environment (Montessori in Standing, 1984), a child will be able to develop discipline. By having freedom to choose materials he/she likes, child will repeatedly practice with them and finally develops his/her concentration. When he/she has been able to concentrate, then this child will become disciplined.
The level of child's discipline will reach its maturational level when whatever the child is doing is driven by the energy that comes from within him/her. The child will have self discipline when he/she wants to do exercise voluntarily, without having any need to be praised or awarded by anyone in return. He/she knows exactly that the exercise or task is useful for them. This means he/she has full control of himself/herself on what to do and what not to do.
If a child keeps on doing the exercise repeatedly, then he/she starts developing his/her awareness of its benefit for his/her skill development. At this stage child has been conscious why he/she chooses to do something, so this child has had a control on his/her own will. This means child will able to direct his/her inner energy to obey external instruction that is given by the environment. This is the stage when the child is becoming obedient.
Obedience is closely related to the development of will. This will power is attained if only a child manages to develop it, from merely unconscious power that instinctively drives the child to follow his/her own course, to a deliberate power that makes him/her chooses to do some action. He/she also will fully understand that the object he/she chooses will be beneficial to his/her skill development to perfection. This means that this child has a full command of controlling himself/herself.
This development of will power is done by letting the child to do some object that he/she chooses independently and repeatedly in a prepared environment. Why did Montessori make a prepared environment is an important variable? " realizing the peculiarly absorbent nature of the child's mind, she has prepared for him a special environment; and, then placing the child within it, has...