Contention --- Sung
Bob Messing writes, "Arguments, battles of wit, and issues of right and wrong are behaviors that deviate from harmony. They result in a loss of balance for the manager, the team, and the entire organization. In following the path of the Tao, the manager becomes acutely aware of his temperament and the nature of that temperament which is most harmful. Caution and moderation are tempered by inner strength and the holding back of outward aggressiveness. A manager does not seek outside justice. We all know that winning an argument is not the same thing as getting the job done."
This passage really resonates on several levels as a Montessori teacher. We also experience this with different age levels in the same classroom and need to appropriately resonate what is right and wrong with the respective age level and maturity level of the given child. With so many personalities at different levels of development this can definitely be a challenge.
Everyday comes with its own set of challenges, its own set of contentions in the classroom. The most difficult contention that I think we have as Montessori teachers is our inner contention during and about given situations. How do we handle it? Did we handle that right? This personality or group of personalities is really getting on my nerves today. One guide might think to themselves well this is right even though this child thinks they are right and they may very well be right for their level of thinking. I think we need to have harmony within ourselves about the contentions going on in the classroom.
One day a teacher that I had just started working with, whom I respect very much, must have observed me intently or may have been observing me intently for several days. She watched how I handled different situations and how I handled certain adults that were quite difficult. This teacher said to me how do I do it or how do I handle it like that. I had to think about it for a little bit because I never thought about it as me handling it. Thanks to her I came up with two realizations. One is that I do not take anything in the classroom with the children personally. It allows me to be aware of where the harmony is during given situations. The second thing is that I do not see the children as children. I see them as how I perceive that they are and I see their best qualities. Then I look at where their weaker qualities are and how to help them to strengthen them.
That was kind of a big insight for me and I appreciate that teacher asking me that question. It was also a huge compliment coming from her. When I explained this all to her she had told me that she never thought of it that way and what an interesting spin on interacting in the classroom. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little spin on contention in the Montessori classroom.
What do you notice about your inner dialogue in the classroom? How do you view the children when you experience battles of the will? What skills and techniques can you share about this passage? Thank you for reading and I look forward to continued interactions with this Tao of management experiment!