Monday, April 28, 2014


I've been reading this book for the past few days and some passages struck a chord within me. Hence, I've decided to share a few passages which I hope will be of use to other parents and even school teachers out there. And I'll try my best to continue posting more Montessori Teaching and Parenting methods in the future. :)

The Disadvantages of Rewards and Punishments
A Montessori Approach to Praise and Gentle Discipline
"In school, there is only one prize for all those “of good will” who enter the race, a fact which generates pride, envy, and rivalries instead of that thrill coming from effort, humility, and love which all can experience.

Social life, it is true, has rewards and punishments that differ from those of the spirit, and adults see to it that a child’s mind soon enough adapts itself to, and keeps itself within, the conventions of this world. They make use of rewards and punishments to make a child submissive to their will.

In some ways schools resemble governmental bureaucracies. Employees in the various departments of government are busy securing some distant but great advantage, but their results are not always visible. It is through them that the state carries on its great undertakings and provides the general welfare of the people. But they themselves are scarcely aware of the importance of their work. Their immediate interest is in a promotion, just as a student is anxious to pass on to a higher grade at the end of the school year. The employee who loses sight of his lofty goal is like a degraded child or a tricked slave. His intrinsic dignity as a man has been reduced to the level of a machine, which needs to be oiled if it is to function properly since it does not have within itself a vital principle. He is urged on along his dry and disagreeable journey by such things as a desire for recognition. And the fear of not getting a promotion prevents him from leaving his job and ties him to his painstaking and monotonous labour just as the same fear keeps a student at his books. Corrections of a supervisor are exactly like the shouts of a teacher, and changes in poorly written letters are like marks made on a student’s badly written exercise.

Every victory and every advance in human progress comes from some inner compulsion. A young student can become a great teacher or doctor if he is driven on by an interest in his vocation; but if he is motivated solely by the hope of a legacy or a good marriage or some other external advantage, he will never become a real teacher of doctor, and he will not make any great contribution to the world through his work. If a young man must be rewarded or punished by his school or family in order to make him study for his degree, it would be far better off for him not to receive it at all. Everyone has a special inclination or special secret; a hidden vocation. It may be modest but it is certainly useful. An award can divert such a calling and turn one’s heads to the loss of his true vocation.

It would be a disaster if poems were written solely with the hope of winning a state award. It would be better for a poet’s vision to remain concealed within him and for the poetic Muse to disappear. A poem should flow from a poet’s mind when he is not thinking of a reward or of himself; and even if he wins a prize, it should never make him proud.

Man (should) experience a thrill that can only be compared with the intense joy of one who discovers that he is loved. It is in touching and conquering the minds of others that we enjoy the only reward worthy of our efforts. This happens to us at certain joyous moments given to us so that we may continue to live in peace. It may happen when we fall in love, or when a child has been conceived and delivered, or a book published, or a great discovery has been made, and we deceive ourselves with the thought that we are the happiest person in the world.

And yet, if at that happy moment, someone who is in authority, or who is over us like a teacher, should come up and offer us a medal or prize, it would rob us of our true intrinsic reward. Disillusioned, we may cry out, “Who are you to remind me of the fact that I am not supreme, that there is another so far above me that he can actually give me a reward?”
The real punishment of a normal man is for him to lose consciousness of his own strength and greatness. Such a punishment often falls upon men enjoying an abundance of what are commonly known as “rewards”. But men, unfortunately, often do not notice the real punishments which threaten to overwhelm them. Truly there is an urgent need today of reforming the methods of instruction and education, and he who aim at such a renewal is struggling for the regeneration of mankind."

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