Baan Dek

Rushing to Judgement

Thoughts & Reflections

We work very hard not to judge the children. It is so easy to assume we know the whole story, to know why someone did something, that driver pulled in front of me without signaling because they’re a jerk, not because they’re having a hard morning; someone is taking a long time getting coffee because they’re oblivious, not because they’re getting coffee for a friend; she obviously just doesn’t care, not she’s just overwhelmed.

That child is doing nothing. There’s no way he’s ready for this. She can’t handle that responsibility.

montessori rushing to judgement

It is so easy to assume. We see a child and think I Know Better. I’m the adult, I know his intentions and his motives and his possibilities. Watch out, my Pride is showing. There’s nothing so humbling than being shown you are wrong.

When new children join the classroom, we tell families, give them six weeks. Give us six weeks. Give yourself six weeks. Six long, short weeks of patience, of space, of opportunity. Six weeks of drop offs and pick-ups, of learning how to be here, of making friends and learning routines, of watching and trying.

It’s just the start of the sixth week of our new semester, since new children joined us. It’s a significant amount of time. We feel like the new children have always been here, it’s hard to remember what it was like before they came, they are fully integrated into our classroom family.

montessori rushing to judgement

We were reminded of a child who brought to the forefront of our minds — we are not here to judge, we are not here to assume, we are here to observe and to help and to keep company, but never to judge.

This child is a younger sister, she had seen drop offs, was comfortable at Baan Dek, and finally it was her turn. So exciting! School had always been the place she went, but then left with a parent, so staying was thrilling, but not without feelings of being left behind.

She would wait by the door, only fussy the first few minutes of the first few days. After that it was successively easier to walk down the hall and into the classroom, but there was always this sense of ready to leave. Items which had been brought from home remained in her hands as she wandered around the classroom, outside shoes still on feet, sweatshirt on, ready to go. Her family said she loved school, and that was the consensus from the teachers, she just always seemed to have one foot out the door.

montessori rushing to judgement

As the weeks progressed, she began wandering around the classroom. Observing others working. Looking out the window. Watching life play out around her. She never wanted to eat snack, never wanted to use the bathroom, never was upset, just quiet, watchful, waiting.

One day, at the end of her fifth week, something phenomenal happened.

A work had been left out, the iconic Pink Tower. As the guide knelt down to retrieve the first piece to put it away, the child was right there. She had been invited to watch presentations many times before, but only watched if it was her own choice, never after an invitation. So it was even more surprising when, being asked, “would you like to try this?” she built the Pink Tower perfectly.

montessori rushing to judgement

And yet, not surprising at all.

She wasn’t Doing Nothing. She was watching every moment. She was taking it all in — every time a child took out, worked with, put away the Pink Tower, she was inhaling the whole classroom and learning every second.

Extrapolate that to every material, every interaction she had seen over the last several weeks.

There are so many things we could have assumed about her. She’s not ready. She isn’t learning anything. She’s stubborn. What would have happened, or not happened, if we had made those assumptions. How wonderful that we’ll never know.

Written by:

Charlotte Wood

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