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Relationship Between Discipline And Obedience From The Montessori Perspective

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Explain the relationship between discipline and obedience from the Montessori perspective and discuss how discipline and obedience are linked to the development of the will.

The word Ð''discipline' has a harsh connotation in today's society. It conveys images of strict teachers with canes and authoritarian figures laying down the law. It is something enforced by external forces and maintained by fear of repercussions or punishment. But this kind of forced discipline only appears from the outside to be effective. Rather like a regiment of soldiers on parade. It is really a form of acting on the part of the submissive child to play by the rules and to either be rewarded for this or to be punished for doing the opposite. This is sadly is a serious deviation from the natural way of life.

In this essay I intend to write about how discipline and obedience play a vital role in the making of a person, and how both these virtues are related in the development of the will.

Discipline from the Montessorian perspective is not something external but growing from within the individual. A disciplined child is a free individual able to make choices for him or herself. It is a natural law of life that is an on going process dependent on personal freedom. It cannot be taught through words but by action.

Ð''Discipline is therefore attained indirectly, that is, by developing activity in spontaneous work.' (M.Montessori, (1948) The Discovery of The Child')

It is commonly thought that obedience follows after the will of the individual is broken. Montessori believed however that the will and the obedience of the child go hand in hand. It is not a case of breaking the will but letting it develop naturally. If you have one you must have the other; the will to be obedient.

Ð''If the child is not yet master of his actions, if he cannot obey even his own will, so much the less can he obey the will of someone else.' (M. Montessori, Montessori Talks to Parents 1: The Three Levels of Obedience)

Montessori's idea of obedience is not to be demanded from the child but obtained by a gradual maturation. A young person therefore must have a will in order obey and so be disciplined. In the teachings of Montessori all three are intertwined. There is no need for a teacher to use up energy controlling a class when, given a chance in the right setting, a child learns to master him/herself.

Ð''In a word they are Ð''self-controlled', and to the extent that they are thus controlled they are free from the control of others.' (M. Montessori, (1988), Ð''The Discovery of The Child')

The chance to concentrate comes with the movement involved in doing the activities. In order for the child to learn through activity there needs to be equipment ready for him/her to choose. Montessori called this the Ð''prepared environment'. This equipment is laid out at eye level for the small children by the teacher. It is like a library of things to do where instead of books the activities are the keys to knowledge. This prepared environment gives the child access to the tools used for survival in the adult world.

Ð''A child tries to act like the adults about him, making use of the same objects.' (M. Montessori, (1972) Ð''The Secret of Childhood')

These activities act as the bridge between the child and the environment. What the child learns in the nursery s/he can apply to the home in a practical way. An ideal situation in the home could be when the child is given the opportunity to prepare a meal. The adults around the child need to be supportive in the child's choices and allow mistakes to happen.

The spirit of the classroom allows the child the freedom to choose. In this way the child's intrinsic motivation can be applied to learning without interference. It is a classroom designed to educate with materials for individualized learning. At home the child should be able to use as much as possible the things the adults use for house work. However, ideally the child needs to use things suited to his/her size. This is a very important factor in a Montessori school. An activity of interest is then repeated and this in turn gives rise to a level of deep concentration. In this state the child is developing his/her inner discipline independently of the teacher. This starts at home where the simplest tasks are practised everyday Ð'- how to carry things, move about, how to wash, to lay the table, eating, talking and how to see.

The freedom to choose allows the child to express their natural impulses. By making choices in this environment, an individual can truly be disciplined. As interaction with the environment increases, s/he becomes more conscious of the immediate surroundings. The child becomes involved with an activity which in turn triggers concentration. Concentration is the starting point for this inner discipline.

Ð''The first essential for the child's development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behaviour.' (M. Montessori, (1988), Ð''The Absorbent Mind')

Discipline, the will and obedience all grow at an early stage to form the backbone of social integration. For a society to work and before any organization can begin there must be cohesion. This is why discipline and obedience are characteristics which lead on to make a cohesive group. Discipline of the individual and the will to act for the good of others is a crucial part in forming a strong community.

Ð''Social integration has occurred when the individual identifies himself with the group to which he belongs. When this has happened, the individual thinks more about the success of his group than of his own success.' (M. Montessori,(1988), Ð''The Absorbent Mind')

From the age of about three to six the child goes through the social embryonic stage. For the community to be effective, people need to understand the needs of others and to see their place in the social order. The community forms a vital part of the Montessori classroom. By working in a group children can work on their social qualities like teamwork, patience with others and problem solving. Only one copy of each activity is available at one time so children have to learn to wait to use an activity already being used.




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