‘I am, I want to, I can’ – Each individual has his or her inner course of development
Children are born into the world with different talents. The development of their individual potential requires educational surroundings in which these are seen and supported. Each child follows his or her inner developmental plan on an individual path of learning.
“Children bring into the world not only the ability to constantly learn new things but the pleasure to always discover something new … The most appropriate suggestions for interconnections in the brain, yet to be woven and fixed, are those which the child develops from the inside by himself.” (Prof. Dr. Gerald Huether, 2006)
The ‘inner development plan’ of the learner is also one of the most important principles on which Maria Montessori based her work. According to her experience and conviction, every child carries an ‘inner blueprint’ for the development of his or her personality. She describes ‘sensitive periods’ as important steps in the development of children. These are periods in which the child has a particular susceptibility, a special willingness, for the acquisition of particular skills.
In each preceding sensitive phase the foundation is laid for the one following. From an early age children have an inner sense of what’s just right for their development. The immediate pursuit of inner impulses and practical action are in the foreground. If they have free choice of tasks and are embedded in an appropriate social structure, children get to know themselves and their abilities and they practice making decisions. The older they get the better their ability will become to reflect on the learning process and to take full responsibility for their own learning and for the community. This way they have the opportunity to recognise and realise their individual potential.
In order to support the children’s organic inner learning processes, the Escola da Esperança offers several other forms of learning such as internships, projects and workshops in addition to the ‘open learning space’. Here the focus is on action-oriented learning, in a variety of adult working areas, with the guidance of ‘experts’. It is especially important to us that young children are in direct contact with nature and with animals, under the guidance of dedicated gardeners, environmentalists and skilful animal companions. In mixed-age and interdisciplinary projects the students will find tasks and positions which correspond to their interests, abilities and potential.
In long projects, like the theatre project, adults can witness how the children position themselves in the appropriately in the overall event according to their level of development if the space for this is consciously created. These are moments where the children become our teachers and ‘life itself’ reveals its powers of self-organization and self-healing.