Does Christian Montessori make you a “Super” Christian?
That is sort of an embarrassing question. A little self-serving, self-righteous maybe? But it all depends on how you define “Super.”
Let’s start with humility. If there ever was a “super” Christian virtue it has to be humility. If they gave awards out for humility they would take it away if you accepted it. But humility is one of the cardinal virtues we present to the child in a Montessori environment. We come offering ourselves to the child as a servant (instead of a master.) We come, in one sense, as a fellow learner. We come to learn and share what we have learned.
A second “super” virtue is patience. Our whole world is impatient. That is why we have microwaves and instant on TVs, 24 hour news cycles, cell phones, fast food and a hatred of traffic jams. Then we come to the Montessori environment where we practice – deliberately practice – patience. There is only one pink tower, so we wait our turn. We do not rush through our lessons (nor make other people rush.) We march (crawl) to the rhythm of the child. We breathe deep and wait for the light to dawn. (And sometimes it is on us that it dawns!)
A third “super” virtue in the environment is gentleness. Soft words, soft actions. This practice of the fruit of the Spirit is transformative. Can you do Montessori without gentleness?
Fourth, Montessori environments are noted for the peacefulness. And if we continue breathing deeply that peace begins to permeate our very being as well.
Fifth, there is a joy to a Montessori environment. When you watch the child’s discoveries they are always accompanied by joy. How can joy not enter into you?
Sixth, there is the practice of grace and courtesy. Grace is such a beautiful word in both of its definitions. Grace is a fluid movement, a beautiful look, effortless “perfection.” And then there is the grace of unmerited favor. A great Montessori environment contains both in abundance. Grace and courtesy – being trained how to care for others, how to respond to others. Courtesy is the first step in learning how to love, in learning how to consider others before yourself. An environment permeated with love changes everything – and everyone.
Seventh comes the workshop and the challenge of the Fruit of the Spirit – self-control – probably the toughest of the “super” virtues. Dr. Montessori did not talk directly about self-control but in her chapter on deviations you will find it squarely in the middle. She talks about our “fugues” (a disturbed state of consciousness, flights of fancy), barriers (things we can’t overcome), our attachments, possessiveness, desire for power, our inferiority complex, our fears and lies we believe. All of those have no place in the Montessori classroom (nor in our lives.) And we do not need to inflict these on our children. How we deny or even negate these maladies is a spiritual exercise. It is only by self-control that we can hope to keep them away from infecting our children. The problem is our self-control, outside of the empowerment of Christ and His Spirit, is weak and often ineffectual. The Fruit of the Spirit of self-control becomes a “super” virtue because we realize that it can only come from and through Him.
It is not hard to see, nor imagine how our Montessori experience changes us and brings us closer to the ideal. Does it make us “super?” I don’t know. But what I do know is that it makes us a whole lot more like Jesus.