Julia B. Kulakowski
Montessori Institute of San Diego
The three levels of obedience are explained by Dr. Maria Montessori after long observations of children of multiple ages in her classroom. She defines the three of obedience as first, an ability to obey, but not all the time. Secondly an ability to obey at all times after developing their own will. Finally being able to obey consistently, moreover to follow another person which the child has deemed superior to them self. Obedience is commonly defined as acting in accordance with the will of another person. She determined that children have an inherent force within them, termed Horme: a vital internal impulse to act upon ones environment to create impressions and develop ones will. For centuries, it was believed and commonly practiced to break or submit this will in order to gain the child’s obedience. Dr. Montessori discovered that in allowing children to act according to their horme and showing them clearly right and wrong, the development of the will flourishes and the third level of obedience, obeying without question, is readily achieved.
In the first level of obedience, children are not conscious of that which drives them toward acting. The Horme, or inner impulse, pushes them to act upon their environment creating impressions with which the child can successfully adapt to said environment. It is important to note, before the age of three a child is unable to obey anything other than this inner will or Horme. The child begins developing this will and obedience with each decision they make to act, work, listen, or speak. It takes these three years and beyond of practicing that act upon the environment and learning what works and what is not working to really develop the character and inner discipline of the will. The role of the Guide at this point is very much that of a silent, observing by-stander. To observe the child’s actions, limiting...