Children Need to Be Free to Learn


“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” ~Socrates

Children are born to be curious, sociable, skillful, joyful and empathetic. Their minds are creative and flexible, their hearts trusting and open. They come into the world with brains designed to learn from their local environment, to interact skillfully with the people and objects that surround them.

They enjoy experimenting with new things and investigating whatever interests them. They learn languages and gain new skills easily, as long as they are respected, assisted (when needed) and encouraged.

Maria Montessori understood this, and taught that the role of educators is to organize learning environments so that they facilitate self-discovery, creativity, concentration and collaborative exploration.

Children learn best when learning is meaningful, playful and self-directed. There is no need for constant control, monitoring, external rewards and punishments. In fact, such authoritarian efforts tend to deter children’s learning, deaden their natural motivation and curiosity.

They will put time and effort into mastering skills and helping one another. They have a natural desire to make things, to communicate, be creative and competent, sociable and successful.

Teachers and parents have an important role to play with this, but attempts to over-control the natural learning process will immediately begin to snuff it out. Rigid expectations, standardized testing and comparisons of children to one another is psychologically harmful, as no two children will learn in the exact same way or at the same rate.

Provide extra help for those who are struggling, but make sure it’s done with love, respect and good intentions. Bottom line, children lose interest when adults are too rigid, authoritarian and controlling.

They need to be free to learn.

~Christopher Chase

Related video on Montessori Schools / Real Learning is a Creative Process


About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
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25 Responses to Children Need to Be Free to Learn

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  21. Sidney says:

    I’m living on the same frequency as your blogposts. That always feels good, or at least like solidarity in the face of daunting odds against a major paradigm shift. What do you teach in Fukuoka?
    I’m working on designing a community learning resource network, as are others, I have realized, and wonder how far away the tipping point might be. Thanks for your posts!

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