by Yolanda Sokiri-Munn, June 2019
I am often surprised just how seriously Montessorian parents, and classroom adult guides (in particular), take themselves. Far too seriously, as far as I am concerned. Could it be time to take lessons from the children? Would we be a whole lot lighter, in spirit, and better able to engage with the children if we introduced more laughter into our daily routine? After all, if children do not see us laugh at ourselves, our errors and foibles, how exactly do we expect them to be able to do likewise? Easier said than done, I hear some say. They may have a point but, like most things, if you intentionally create that space, it just starts to bubble up. By that I don’t mean pent up anger, but a real need to stop controlling situations, and let the unexpected emerge. I’m no expert, but as primates we have evolved over generations, to the point where the business of a « solid sense of humour », has gone from simply raising « contented babies » to decoding how laughter is an invaluabe resource that enables human connection and arguably our survival. For the scientists amongst us (polite speak for those who might have been hidden away in a cavern) laughter releases oxytocin, which enables us to remain focused under situations of duress and dopamine which aids in memory retention and processing information. Simply put, laughter makes us happy. All of which are key aids to life. The more self-aware we are, the more likely we shall be able to make better choices for ourselves. Without falling into a sociological, psychological or philosophical debate about the power we have to make choices, I remain convinced that ‘aha’ moments speak to our deeper selves. When life provides us with an opportunity to confront « parental theory » versus reality.
Parents appear to have increased expectations, of their children, and unfortunately less time to spend with them. Part of the solution might be, to better use our sense of humour. Research has shown that humour stimulates both sides of your children’s brains, encourages clarity, creativity and better problem-solving abilities! I am not, however, suggesting that parenting is a "joking" matter! This is one of the challenges that parents face, how to engage in an adult role which calls upon them to remain connected to their inner-child?
So coming back to the trials and tribulations of « parenting » Some of us are choosing to selectively share (admittedly all too often in whispered tones) our challenges. Even before we have knocked back our first cocktail, someone is describing a gut-wrenching tale of survival. It is getting to the point where I fear that the next ‘politically correct’ act will be to be a loud and proud « I’m a parent and I don’t care who knows it ! » t-shirt wearer. The time has come to unite, and start to share things as they are, with a greater sense of humour. Together we can seek to create « funnier" children. By that I don’t mean, « funny to look at », but just « funny to be with » and able to « laugh at themselves » ! Am I the only one that can recall seeing a child scavenging at the end of a birthday party, « can I have another goodie bag please? ». When questioned later by the mother, in a rather horrified manner, you often hear « But I was polite! » A good time, as any to laugh out-loud or better still together.
For those few readers, who are still looking for the secret ingredients that guarantee « happiness » please turn to the last page of the blog, and double click where indicated. Oops nothing happened…try again next time. No, in fairness, I am no wiser than you are. If I had to say in a nutshell what message I would love to instil, in us all, it would be the incredible role that laughter plays in life. I believe that one of the best things an adult can create is ….and wait for it, silence and presence. It's a fine balancing act, given that we are constantly facing an increasing number of expectations, while being bombarded with questions. We get to the point where we opt for ‘doubt or shout’ when ‘dance or take a chance’* might have been the better option. As a Montessorian with the formidable task of accompanying children as they become «normalised » ** , having faith in the child’s ability to use all the resources they have at hand, has been made easier by my sense of humour.
Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) professors, Aaker and Bagdonas, recently concluded that “humour is an effective and underleveraged tool for power, offering a competitive advantage against peers, higher retention rates of employees, innovative solutions, and teams that are more resilient to stress”.
*(an opportunity for the child to reflect and gain new experiences).
** (Montessori term used to define a child that has shown a level of self-awareness and maturity, which enables them to serve the interest of the community and themselves in a dignified and respectful manner. My « elevator pitch » version does not do justice to the reflection that Dr. Maria Montessori has shared on the normalised child.)
Brené Brown - The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting
Daniel Goleman - Emotional Intelligence
Dr. Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind
What is a child about? How can a helpless baby become a full member of our society? Maria Montessori’s understanding was that “education” becomes an “aid to life” - a natural process all children undertake spontaneously, guided through ever evolving stages of development.
Quelle ne fut pas ma surprise en tombant sur cet article lors de mes recherches sur internet.
Et pourtant cela faisait écho à ce que j'ai pû observer durant mes nombreuses années de travail avec les enfants. Trop souvent j’ai entendu que les élèves devaient rester en position bien droite et statique sur leur chaise et trop souvent j’ai vu ces enfants se tordre, gigoter et prendre des positions improbables sur leurs chaises alors qu’ils étaient pourtant parfaitement concentrés sur leur activité. Une école primaire d'Ottawa a trouvé une solution originale pour maintenir l'attention des élèves.
La mère parfaite n’existe pas !
Etant maman de deux enfants et ayant étudié l’éducation sous toutes ses coutures, j’ai appris une chose en devenant maman : avec ses enfants, on fait ce qu’on PEUT et non ce qu’on VEUT !
Deux Mille Feuilles
École Montessori Bilingue
Bilingual Montessori School
Route des Bois 2, 1278 La Rippe, Vaud (near Nyon)
Phone: +41 76 580 61 78