Our task is to show the way to discipline. Discipline is born when the child concentrates his attention on some objects that attracts him and provides him not only with a useful exercise but with a control of error.
Discipline, the first result of an order establishing itself within, is the principal phenomenon to be looked for as the ‘external sign’ of an internal process that has been initiated.
Freedom is understood, in a very elementary fashion, as the immediate release from oppressive bonds; as a cessation of corrections and of submission to authority. This conception is plainly negative, that is to say, it means only the elimination of coercion. From this comes, often enough, a very simple reaction: a disorderly pouring out of impulses previously controlled by the adult’s will. To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom. The result is children who are disorderly because order had been imposed upon them, lazy because they had previously been forced to work, and disobedient because their obedience had been enforced.
…you yourselves must be filled with wonder and when you have acquired that, you are prepared.
We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.
Our goal is not so much the imparting of knowledge as the unveiling and developing of spiritual energy.
Let us always remember that inner discipline is something to come and not something always present.
They do not understand us, they cannot defend themselves from us, and they accept whatever we tell them. They not only accept abuse, but feel guilty whenever we blame them.
To become acquainted with the material, a teacher should not just look at it, study it in a book, or learn its use through the explanations of another. Rather, she must exercise herself with it for a long time, trying in this way to evaluate through her own experience the difficulties of, or the interests inherent in, each piece of material that can be given to a child, trying to interpret, although imperfectly, the impressions which a child himself can get from it. Moreover, if a teacher has enough patience to repeat an exercise as often as a child, she can measure in herself the energy and endurance possessed by a child of a determined age. For this final purpose, the teacher can grade the materials and thus judge the capacity of a child for a certain kind of activity at a given stage of his development.
In brief, the teacher’s principle duty in the school may be described as follows: She should explain the use of the material. She is the main connecting link between the material, that is the objects, and the child. This is a simple, modest duty, and yet it is much more delicate than that found in the older schools, where the material simply helps the children to understand the mind of the teacher, who must pass on her own ideas to a child, who must in turn receive them.