The Directress follows the Assistantial Approach, it is child centred, learner focused, it empowers action. It is an approach in which the educator has power-with the learner, not power-over her. The role of the Directress is to remove obstacles to naturally unfolding development, not to hurry it. Freedom for the learner is necessary, including the freedom to choose, move, respond to inner guide and pace and to identify own errors. It is an approach which aims at non-violence, with the Montessori adult allowing the learner to fully embody her creative powers and build herself according to her own goals and laws. The Directress’s motto is ‘I must decrease so that she may increase’
Learning is an autonomous process, which occurs independently of the educator, she must work for herself as being a fully actualised human can only come from ones own efforts. Education is not competed by a teacher but is a naturally occurring urge, filled with ease and joy if allowed to happen according to the learners inner timetable for development an following her impulses. Learning is a happy process if the means for development are satisfied and the learner is empowered, it is an intrinsic part of being human. The role of the educator is to help plan assisting environments and activities.
The learner is an individual with unique needs, pace and styles, education must allow for and encourage individual responsibility and action.
While each learner is an individual we have universal characteristics, and chronology towards development. The individual’s unique learning rhythm is in constant flux, with changing needs,
If a learner cannot work at her development she suffers and her development deviates, the violence caused by unmet needs violates the learner’s integrity and will. Education which directs a learner’s timetable and pushes it’s own version of what attributes should develop, tries to mould and shape the learner from without is an instrument of oppression which aims at breaking the will, silencing the inner voice and preventing the true nature of the individual being fully revealed; the inner nature of the learner is suppressed.
The Montessori Adult’s action must be guided by the Assistantial Approach this, ensuring that the Prepared Environment stimulates her freedom and allows her to work at boosting her freedoms and creativities. The adult’s activities should protect the achievements already made and all the capacities a learner has already acquired for themselves and show their faith in the her, the adult’s confidence affects the learner’s self belief. As the adult’s presence has a dramatic effect on the learner the Montessori Approach aims to lessen the impact by working indirectly.
Bruce D. Perry M.D, PhD recalls his strategy for preparing a space for the children who survived the Waco siege, in response to some clinicians who wanted to begin immediate therapy and some Government Officials who had allowed the children to live in a structureless environment interviewing them at irregular hours he proposed a different structure.
‘I felt at this time that it was more important at this to restore order and be available to support, interact with, nurture, respect, listen to, play with and generally, “be present”… I thought these children needed the opportunity to process what had happened at their own pace and in their own ways…ad develop new childhood memories and experiences to begin offsetting their earlier fearful ones.’ – The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog And Other Stories From A Child Psychiatrist‘s Notebook: What Traumatised Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing, Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz, (2006) p.71 and 72