Value of Social Skills in Montessori

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“The child in the Montessori school is not isolated, he is a microcosm of the Human Society, the ideal reality of this society lies in the Unity and Coherence, respect and love.” The Child, Society, and the World – Dr Maria Montessori

In light of the above quote, discuss the value of the social skills in the Montessori school and give the example of experiences, which would help the child acquire understanding and respect for the others.

“An isolated individual cannot develop his individuality. He must put himself in relationship with his environment and within the reach of the events and the life of his times.”, Child’s Instinct to Work, Maria Montessori Imagine you are in a super-market to buy a pack of milk. You are standing in a queue waiting for your turn to pay at the cash counter. All of a sudden, a person walks in, bypasses everybody in the queue and asked to be handled first at the cash counter. Whenever something like this happens, the first thought to cross our mind is always “Doesn’t this person have any manners?” or “Didn’t this person learn anything about being patient and respecting others?” We realise that having basic courtesy to respect others and their time is a very important social skill. In the same way, there are lot of other social skills that define our personality. In this essay, the social grace and courtesy are introduced. Then, the various benefits of the social skills are explained. The essay also explains in detail how the social skills are inculcated in the Montessori environment along with a few examples. Finally, how following classroom rules also helps in developing the social skills in the children. Social Grace and Courtesy

A person’s ability to move around in society with the social grace and courtesy defines a major part of the person’s personality. Social grace is elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression or proportion. Behaving gracefully in social condition is a pleasing and charming quality. Courtesy could be defined simply as good manners. Being respectful and polite are the most important parts of being courteous to others. Children learn social grace and courtesy skills first from home and then their learning environment. Human beings are naturally inclined towards the people who are graceful and respectful to others around. Without these basic skills, the person could be isolated in the social environment. For example, if a child repeatedly misbehaves with other children, bully them, fight with them, creates unwanted noise in the lesson, very soon this child loses his/her ‘friends’ in the classroom. No child would like to sit next to the misbehaving child leading to the ill-mannered child’s isolation. Maria Montessori identified the importance of social skills and introduced exercises related to social grace and courtesy in the classroom. She believed that young children are not self-conscious and it is easy to teach them social skills at the very young age. They carry forward their social skills learned in the young age to their rest of the life. To be more at ease in their environment, children need to know and understand the social structure. For example, a child is taught that you should always give seat to the old people while travelling in a bus or train. When a child offers his/her seat to an old person in a public place, people look at the child with appreciation and child feels good and appreciated. Therefore, as a social being and part of the society, it is very important to teach and imbibe the social grace and courtesy skills in the child. Benefits of Learning Social Skills

“So in the child, besides the vital impulse to create himself, and to become perfect, there must yet another purpose, a duty to fulfil in harmony, something he has to do in the service of a united whole." (Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 57)”...
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