Freedom, Creativity and, Imagination: Where did you go?

This blog post was written by Jemma Hicks

I was very lucky to receive piano lessons whilst I was growing up. My favourite teacher would record songs for me on a tape each week and ask me to listen to this tape over and over at home. My homework each week was to learn the wongs by ear and come up with a new melody or chord structure. I LOVED learning music this way.

Unfortunately, we did not stay with that piano teacher very long because my parents were afraid that I was not ‘really learning music’. As my parents were not particularly musical themselves, they were worried that I wasn’t reading the notes as I should have been doing. Now that I’m a professional musician (who did eventually learn to read the notes), I realised the gift my teacher gave me. She inspired me to be creative and to develop my imagination. She taught me to use my own knowledge and to create new ideas. She gave me a little, then gave me the time to create a lot. Through these lessons I learnt to ponder, to choose and to refind my work. She let me feel that I was capable of choose and to refine my work. She let me feel that I was capable of coming up with my own ideas, and that these were valued.

This is the most constructive creativity – the opportunity for people to develop and explore their own ideas in whatever mode or medium they feel passionate about.

I recently spoke with a primary school teacher who explained that I child in her class told her “I used to have fun in a preschool but now here it is just hard work.” The same teacher received similar negative comments from her young students who all felt that there was nothing fun anymore. Some parents even told this teacher that their children had started pretending they were sick on the days that the teacher had scheduled tests. Needless to say, this Early Childhood Teacher who had been a teacher for the past ten years was heartbroken.

Her students felt so much stress and unhappiness in her environment, and she didn’t have the flexibility at her school to change her pedagogy to suit her students, even though she wanted to. This teacher said to me, “There is no time in our planning for creative work anymore. We don’t have tie for art, we don’t have time for exploring the children’s interests.” She also repeated a story to me from the previous day. “One little. boy had written down the first word down (cat), then next to this work he started drawing a beautifully detailed cat complete with whiskers! I just let him do that instead because I saw that for the first time that day, he looked pleased. He was enthralled because the cat was coming from his heart.”

Perhaps the children in her class felt school was ‘just hard work’ because it was exactly that. The children were not given any opportunities to develop their own interests or use their own imagination.

This is where Montessori education shines. Montessori education follows the idea that learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives. Montessori believed that people learn better when they are interested in what they are learning. She argued that at all costs, children should be given the freedom to explore, be creative and imaginative because that is their true nature.

I believe everyone has a special gift that they bring to the world. Montessori education encouraged children to find what they are really passionate about and gives them the time to develop this gift. We all want be I.T. experts, or musicians but we all need to find what we love doing, and we need the imagination to realise how to achieve our goals.

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