Montessori tends to get a bad rapt when it comes to creativity and imagination. People tend to to think that Montessori did not like the creative arts or for children to play pretend. This is an incorrect assumption.

The child’s imagination and creativity is built through interactions with the environment. It seems to always come back to the environment, doesn’t it?

Montessori emphasized reality for the young child, because their understanding of their environment and the world is still being developed. She saw this environment as beautiful, harmonious, and based in reality, so that the child can “organize his perceptions of it.”

Why reality before creativity?

When the child “has developed realistic and ordered perceptions of the life about him, the child is capable of the selecting and emphasizing processes necessary for creative endeavors” (45).

A good grasp of reality–being able to perceive and understand the basic workings and interactions of the world around us—leads to creativity and imagination.

“Montessori emphasized that this selective capability requires three qualities: a remarkable power of attention and concentration which appear almost as a form of meditation; a considerable autonomy and independence of judgment; and an expectant faith that remains open to truth and reality.”

Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori: A Modern Approach, 45

We tend to think of the child’s creation of fantasies and tales as proof of their great imaginations. However, Montessori believed this wasn’t the child’s full imaginative and creative potential, but a sign of his dependent and powerless position in life. Even the belief in adult created myths and traditions, like Santa Clause, Montessori saw as more due to the child’s openness to believe rather than their own creativity.

In short, they are swayed and influenced by the adult, rather than being their own creators. Lillard says it this way, “The adult substitutes his imagination for the child’s because he continually sees the child as a passive being for whom he must act” (45).

Montessori believed when children heard fairy tales and such they were not encouraging the child’s imagination, or creating creativity, but that the child “is only receiving impressions. He is not developing his own powers to imagine constructively” (The Absorbent Mind, 254-255).

So what does this mean? Do we leave behind the imaginative, the great stories of the past? What of Narnia and Middle Earth? Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox?

It wasn’t that Montessori didn’t like creativity or imagination (stories and such) as much as she didn’t care for how it left the child as a passive receiver rather than an active participant or creator.

Montessori saw the environment (beauty, order, and reality) as essential, but also that the child needs freedom to develop creativity. The child needs,

“freedom to select what attracts him in his environment, to relate to it without interruption and for as long as he likes, to discover solutions and ideas and select his answer on his own, and to communicate and share his discoveries at will.” (46)

Do you want a creative and imaginative child? Let the child be free and create an environment that supports, enables, and propels the child to greater freedom. When the child  is able to move freely about the environment, choose and be absorbed in purposeful work, meet challenges and find solutions, and to do this independently, then you have a child who is ready and capable to be an active participant, rather than a passive receiver, of his own creativity and imagination.

Lillard also points out that without the adult authority to pronounce good/bad or right/wrong, the child owns their creative responses and impulses. They are not easily swayed by an outside source. The child becomes the evaluator, no longer looking for the approval of an adult to say whether their drawing it right and good, their fort truly looks like a castle, or whether an astronaut could really fly to Mars. The child has the skills to be their own independent, confident, creative being.

So really, rooting a child in reality (and all that follows and includes) leads to a more confident, creative, able, and imaginative human being.

All work is cloaked in the power of creation. And that’s one thing we need to realize. To be creative isn’t to only paint, or write, tell stories or act out dramas. To be creative is to engage in real, meaningful, and beautiful activity for the benefit of ourselves and others. Sometimes that takes the look of a beautiful painting and sometimes it takes the look of pouring water in a glass to share with a friend. Both activities are an act of creation needing first the foundation of freedom, opportunity for work, self-discipline, and a prepared environment.

Want to learn more about Montessori? Montessori 101 - Join us for a year-long series looking at Montessori education---from the philosophy of the child to how Montessori influences parenting, the areas of the classroom, and how to incorporate Montessori at home.

This post is part of a series called Montessori 101. In February, we looked at Montessori’s approach to the child. In March, we’ll dive into the prepared environment and what that means.

Don’t miss a post in the series by signing up for the Our Montessori Home Newsletter!

 

 

{ 0 comments }

How Children Work, Why They Need It, & How You Can Help

February 23, 2015

Montessori observed that children enjoyed work. They felt a sense of pleasure and pride to be busy and engrossed in a meaninful task. “They appeared immensely please, peaceful, and rested after the most strenuous concentration on tasks they had freely chosen to do” (Montessori: A Modern Approach, 37). Through her observations, Montessori noticed the negative […]

Read the full article →

What is the Absorbent Mind & Sensitive Periods?

February 18, 2015

“Before three, the functions are being created; after three, they develop.” Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind When a child is born, they are born with nothing. No memory, no framework for understanding or processing their environment. Language and motor skills are not programmed into them, unlike other mammals who are able to walk shortly after […]

Read the full article →

Why How We Talk About Montessori Is Important

February 16, 2015

Can I tell you something? One of my goals about writing and sharing Montessori ideas and philosophy is to do it in an accessible, life-giving way. Montessori is a wonderful philosophy of education, but it often gets a “better than thou” rapt because it’s a world all its own with jargon and books and particular […]

Read the full article →

OMH Book Club Giveaway!

February 6, 2015

 This giveaway has ended, but feel free to join us in the OMH Book Club! Winner #1, The OMH Book Club books – Jaime C.! Winner #2, Montessori Today – Jessica W.!We’re kicking off the OMH Book Club with a big giveaway!! Yay for free books! The OMH Book Club is brand new…so new it hasn’t […]

Read the full article →

Montessori 101: Montessori’s Approach to the Child

February 4, 2015

Montessori is more than just beads and pouring, working on a mat, albums, and scope and sequences. It’s a whole philosophy based on seeing the child as a full, able, and independent person and cultivating an environment that allows the child freedom to explore and grow into their full potential. Montessori saw the child not […]

Read the full article →

Montessori Activities for Valentine’s Day

February 1, 2015
Montessori Activities for Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day can be a bright and cozy spot in the middle of winter. I wasn’t planning on setting out Valentine’s themed work this year, until Otto asked for it. And how could I refuse? I pulled out the box filled with pink, white, and red along with candy hearts that Olivia will probably try to […]

Read the full article →

Our Montessori Home Book Club *Starting Feb. 17th*

January 30, 2015
Montessori Book Club

I’m excited to introduce the OMH Book Club! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile and there’s no time like the present, right? There’s so many books out there on Montessori and parenting it can be overwhelming. And, if you’re like me, I can be intimidated by their length and stress about […]

Read the full article →

The History of the Montessori Method

January 28, 2015
The History of Montessori

Welcome! I’m glad you’re back. We’re just beginning a year-long series called Montessori 101: Your Introduction to Montessori Education. We’re going to be looking at the basics of the Montessori method. But before we dive in, I think it’s important we learn about the woman the name Montessori and how the Montessori method came to be. […]

Read the full article →

Montessori 101: A Year-Long Series Going Back to the Basics

January 26, 2015
Montessori 101 Intro

Do you love the Montessori method, but wish you knew more? Are you a Montessori homeschooler or parent in need of a refresher course? Have you seen the hundreds of Montessori pins on Pinterest and wondered what it’s all about? Maybe you want to know why Montessorians do the things they do…floor beds? Pink towers? […]

Read the full article →

Little Passports Review

December 17, 2014

Subscriptions services are all the rage these days–you have craft subscriptions, wine subscriptions, healthy snacks, beauty products, subscriptions just for moms, and even beard grooming subscriptions. We like fun and new, but with ease. Apparently. After trying Kiwi Crate and really enjoying our experience with them, I decided we should try another subscription service that’s […]

Read the full article →