Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Value of Humility

I have been considering the subject of compromise and humility lately.  At the Aspen Idea Festival, David Brooks spoke about how we as a nation have turned away from the idea of humility, and into a nation concerned with self-empowerment.  The sixties and seventies spawned the "me" generation.  It seems everyone these days thinks they are above average in most ways.  Most Americans feel that compromise is for those who are unsure or  possess a weak opinion of themselves.  There is a lot of ego involved in this self-confidence -- in effect saying, "I'm right and you're wrong".  Yet, our forefathers compromised heavily to create our nation. They were humbled by the task and held the notion that we were all created equal, with valid points of view. We show our intellect when we acknowledge that others may have ideas that are relevant, and perhaps, ideas that even lead us to change our outlook.  We show our compassion when we give up a little for the greater good.  I know that in our Montessori schools we present the art of compromise every day.  We respect others and their opinions.  Sometimes, the solution the children arrive at involves giving up a little, and acknowledging the needs and wants of others.  Most often, we become aware that everyone possesses wants and needs, and the trick is discerning the difference.  See the David Brooks speech below.


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  2. I've just found your wonderful blog. Thank you for your inspiring posts! I'm a beginning Montessori teacher, in the third week of my first year. Lately I've been crying (secretly) at lunchtime every day, because the whole experience is so different from what I'd imagined. I'm a great believer in compromise and self-questioning. I consciously meet my students every day with humility and gratitude for who they are. I genuinely want to hear their ideas throughout the day, and have no interest at all in being a dictator. Yet -- right now I’m worried that I may have chosen the wrong career. I expected that if I treated my students with warmth and respect, and presented lots of materials to them in a fun and enticing way, they would naturally begin collaborating and following up on their lessons, eager to discover more for themselves. So far, my students aren’t pursuing research, choosing materials to practice with, or helping each other to learn. I try to communicate with a sense of fun and mystery. We have meetings; I remind; I suggest; I nag; I assign work; I take a material out and work with it myself, showing the pleasure it gives me, and hope that a student will notice and ask to join in. None of this is working. I know that it’s my job to enthuse them and get them following up and pursuing their own work. What am I failing to give them?