During the AMS conference yesterday, I attended a workshop entitled, "Concepts of Work in Society and in our Classrooms." This title piqued my interest given that people are often confused and somewhat alarmed when they hear Montessori teachers refer to the children's activities as "work." Montessori strongly believed that what the children do in the classroom is extremely important and wanted to place emphasis on the meaningful activities which are completed by the child. The "work" of the child allows the development of attention and leads to a normal child, i.e. a child who is calm, actively interested in her environment, aware of and responsive to others, and internally motivated to explore.
The main question is this: When was the last time you saw anywhere, either on T.V., in the news, in real life..., where hard work is glorified? If one thinks about it, everywhere we look, we find messages that working or having to exert effort, is a bad thing. As a result, we have generations who have grown up with a sense of entitlement and the feeling that to have to work at something is a negative experience. To this extent, I feel it is critical to teach children the value of a job well done and the true meaning of working hard at something. During the workshop, I was reminded that this can start earlier than the Primary years - even a toddler is capable of helping out and learning about work. Through simple activities and helping around the home, a young child begins to internalize these concepts.
My hope is that the "work" completed by the children in my class builds not only their concentration, coordination, independence, and order, but also develops their confidence and becomes a source of JOY in their lives.
Work is a good thing!