Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to ‘learn’; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.
112 years before, Dr. Maria Montessori quoted very potent words in regard to child’s education- Follow the Child. Later on, educationists explore the validity and admissibility of her philosophy and found it down to earth for children’s educational wellbeing. Then the world stood with her. If you see now, this philosophy has been used as an important tool to make a stout foundation of learning in the world. On the other hand, the concept also paved a way for a new dimension for pragmatic learning in the world that can help make a life prosperous in every way. Indeed, it has been helpingchildren to discover their every aspects of lifein full fledge.
But sadly Nepal didn’t understand Mari’s these words. Nepal didn’t ponder in following the child rather our education asks to follow the teacher. In Nepal ‘follow the teacher’ is popular. We’ve been asking our children to follow the teachers; to listen the teachers wholeheartedly. The teachers are understood here as Mr. Know All. It’s is believed that the teachers know everything. They can do anything for their children. They are powerful. They are highly respectable. Indeed, the persona of teachers in Nepal is topsy-turvy.
Our education system hovers around teachers, books, results and parents leaving children all alone.I should not spend my words to express the reality about what our education is producing. The output of this education is under the sun.It’s vivid.
Therefore, it’s been too late to follow Maria’s words that have brought a lot of changes in the educational life of every child in the world.Few schools, in Nepal, have come into existence with the name of Montessori but they have still not understood the kernel of her philosophy. There is nothing in the name of Montessori; the real thing is to understand and follow her philosophy. I think our Montessori schools have not apprehended this fact. Let’s talk about the concept of Follow the Child concisely and precisely.
Montessori’s phrase “follow the child” does not mean that let the child do whatever she wants. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that the child has her own pattern. The key to understanding this idea is observation. As Montessori guides, we constantly observe the child in the classroom. We pay careful attention to her interests and the activities to which she is naturally drawn, and we monitor her understanding and development of skills. We then use this level of ability as our guide.
Firstly, we must understand that what we are doing in education is wholeheartedly for the overall evolution of a child. The education that we are imparting today is for children’s life not for teachers. Therefore, we need to do all learning activities that can help bring change in children’s life. To address the very need of children Montessori said follow the child. She means to say that we need to invent the every aspects of child and then we can treat them. We must understand their needs, ability, interest, aim, physicality and the like. We must follow the child in every way possible in case of learning. The teacher should hover the child.
In Nepal, we didn’t care about the real need of a child. We just care about the demand of curriculum, parents and society. We ran after the so called academic results. The schools always wanted a good results of a child so did the parents and society. There is a great admiration for good position holders in school. Therefore, we just went painstakingly to the books; to the curriculum.
Our children topped the class; topped the school but didn’t top their life. There is no beauty of their topper’s mark sheet in the real life because we didn’t follow the child. If we follow the children, we will see their inner talents which have to bloom in life. What is education for? The main function of education is to help a child to bring out his/her inner talent so that he/she can live life well. Every child in this planet comes with at least a talent and that should flourish with the help of education. Education is for life. Life is not for education. If we ask the children to follow their teachers then the life will be the puppet on the hand of education. This mustn’t be done.
In her whole life, Dr. Maria focuses on her view that every child is special, genuine and a bundle of potentialities. We must acknowledge this fact and act upon it.Every child needs a special dealing. They need a special learning method. Now the question comes that how can we follow the child in best ways. There can be many ways of following children. Among them,the OWL method is regarded as the best way of following the child.
What is OWL method?
OWL:Observe, Wait, Listen
Observation is an art of exploring something. Observation of a child is the first step to follow the child. When a child comes to the class room, we must observe him/her in every way. Mainly, her/his etiquette, conducts, health, learning manners, interest, talents and the like. When we have all these data then we can proceed ahead for teaching. We must have all these details so that we can address their real need. Mainly there are three types of learners: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Some children learn via audio or listening to their teachers or any sounds better than other means whereas other students can learn via visual items. They love to study watching films or story or pictures. They can understand better via pictures or visual items. Similarly, there is another group of children who learn via doing. They are called kinesthetic children. They feel easy and love to learn by doing. We can understand all these things through observation. A painstaking observation is of paramount importance to follow a child.
Once we finish a good observation upon a child, we understand so many things about the child that can make our task of teaching easy. It takes time to see the result on child. We need to keep patience and wait for sometimes. We need to allow the child to take part in every activity that we can do for teaching. Sometimes, it takes time to give result on child. Gradually, a child starts to learn. Every child has distinctive ways of learning. Someone learns quickly whereas other learns slowly. Whatever the pace of learning of a child,we just need to wait peacefully. A positive outcomeemerges from every child. Sometimes, due to lack of patience in teachers, a natural growth is missed and halted also. Our patience and impatience both cost a lot for children’s learning. In our traditionally teaching, we don’t wait for children. We move ahead in our own way as a result they don’t get chance to grow well as per their distinct learning quality. We must understand the value and importance of waiting for children. This refers to moving together with the children. This is second essential step to follow the child.
Listento what the child is trying to tell you. Once the child initiates, respond with interest and enthusiasm. Then wait again for him/her to respond. Every child has a tendency to look for attention. They are attention seeker creatures! They want us to listen them. We have experienced at school that the children ask many bizarre questions. Mainly, primary children throw multifarious questions upon their teachers and guardians. This happens because of their attention seeking tendency. We need to understand this reality. We need to pay attention at what they are telling. If we stop listening them, gradually they don’t talk with us; don’t ask questions with us.
Sadly, the very case is happening at our schools. It is believed that the students need to afraid of mostly the principals and the teachers. The fear factor is taken as an important tool in children’s learning. The children are disinterested to raise questions in the process of learning. Why are they going away from us? We must understand the fact. The main reason behind this is we didn’t listen them well when they have many things to say with us. The teachers and the parents forcibly stopped them at the time when they had a lot of questions. Now they don’t listen to us. There are so many things inside the term-listen. Listening to somebodies is to understand them. It’s way of respecting them. When we listen to children, they feel honor. The level of self-esteem rises up. Hence, third step is to listen the child to follow the child.
Eventually, this is a very concise endeavor to explore a pro-child philosophy propounded byDr. Maria-follow the child. I believe that this article gives you an invitation to understand a child and learning. We must acknowledge that the school should be like a fun park for children. We need to ensure that the children are enjoying in learning. We have to know the reality that what the western world is following their children. When we follow them; they will automatically follow us. They will go for life-long learning. Gradually, a self-guided, responsible and hardworking child comes into the existence. This is for sure.
On the auspicious occasion of 39th National Education Day and 59th International Literacy Day, I wish that our teachers will understand the fact of following the children. May god bless our every child with a teacher who follows him/her.
Mr. Binayee is the principal at Jugal College/School; a freelance, author and academic trainer. He has published two books so far now.