Grace and Courtesy (and teasing and gossiping)
“The undisciplined child enters into discipline by working in the company of others, not by being told he is naughty” Dr Montessori
The goal of Montessori education is the education of the whole child not just the intellect. Pro social behaviour is highly valued by both parents and teachers. At school, it is modelled by educators and taught explicitly through Grace and Courtesy lessons. These lessons are developmentally appropriate and might include:
- How to quietly push in a chair
- Role playing. For example, how to join in with a group
- Listening to stories in which children make good choices even in adverse circumstances.
Several weeks ago Leadership and the teachers spoke to the children about kindness. Sadly, a number of children had been overheard teasing and annoying others, and so our message was: “Before you do or say something, think, is it kind?”
The Australian Educational Leader journal recently contained an interesting article about girls and social behaviour. The article referenced the book, Queen Bees and Wannabes. For parents of girls this is an easy, interesting and highly recommended read about girls’ friendships.
Writing about teasing and gossiping, the author tells us:
- At about five years of age, children start to say “Just joking!” as a way to hurt someone and then deny they have done anything wrong.
- The younger a girl is when she gets a mobile phone, the younger she’ll be exposed to gossip.
- Girls struggle between expressing their anger and worry that doing so will destroy their friendships.
- Almost all girls gossip.
- Girls tend to maximise the impact of what someone did to them and minimise the impact of what they did to the other person. This is especially true when they get in trouble.
- This is also the reason that girls usually blame their behaviour on something or someone else.
Of course all the above can apply to boys’ behaviour too.
For teachers and parents it is important to remember that growing up can involve many challenges but that there are strategies and skills we can teach children to help them develop as emotionally strong and caring adults.