I do not trust education.

“I do not trust education” – wrote a principal of a school in his letter addressed to every new teacher he hired.

“Dear Teacher,
I survived a concentration camp, and my eyes saw what no living being should ever see in their lifetime.
I saw scientists and engineers build the gas chambers.
I saw qualified doctors poison children.
I saw trained nurses kill babies.
I saw university graduates shoot and burn women and children. So.
I do not trust education. I beg you: help your students become human. Your effort must never lead to creating science monsters and trained psychopaths. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are only valuable if we help our students become human”.

This letter reflects the reality of the world we live in today. Even though we do not have gas chambers anymore, the world has learned how to justify cruelty, control, and abuse of nature, animals and fellow human beings. We discovered how to communicate with hundreds of people through mobile devices and “connect”  when astounding numbers of children decide to end their lives and suffer from depression without being able to connect to the close ones who can help them find an answer to their struggle.

When I asked my Montessori director and mentor what the purpose of Montessori education is – she told to raise compassionate, caring people who will be able to help and contribute to their society.

We can not expect children to give something they do not have. They reflect what they carry inside.
When we ask ourselves what we want our child to be – 99% of parents what their child to be happy. There is a happiness formula! 
Happiness always depends on the quality of interpersonal connections with others. The deeper, stronger, more honest and more meaningful relationships are the happier a person is. We need our children to learn to build stronger connections with each other, family, friends, God (for those who believe), and even books. Teaching empathy and recognizing and managing emotions is the first step towards guiding your child to create meaningful relationships that are going to last and build happy, healthy marriages and help them become greater parents, friends, and workers.

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Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person and be willing to understand their feelings and perspectives.
There are s few ways to cultivate empathy:
– Try to “guess” the other person’s feelings and what lead them to feel that way
– Read meaningful literature together and discuss it, connect a character’s emotions to your child’s and help them to see further and deeper
– Have honest conversations with the child,  learn to open up, and demonstrate that being yourself is ok.
“What is essential, is our ability to be present to what’s going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment” – says Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC). source
– learn to play a musical instrument
– spend time with pets
– show empathy and respect every time

I highly recommend looking into a fascinating program “Roots of empathy” for great resources and ideas.
“Roots of empathy—an evidence-based program developed in 1996 by longtime educator and social entrepreneur Mary Gordon—has already reached more than 270,000 children in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. Now, as The New York Times reports that “empathy lessons are spreading everywhere amid concerns over the pressure on students from high-stakes tests and a race to college that starts in kindergarten,” Mary Gordon explains the value of and how best to nurture empathy and social and emotional literacy in all children—and thereby reduce aggression, antisocial behavior, and bullying.” You can visit their website here.

“Because it’s really on the breath of little children that the moral future of the universe rests.” Source

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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