Montessori vs. Social Justice
Man is different from the rest of the animal kingdom because he has no automatic survival system. Instead, he has the capacity to reason, but he is not born knowing how to do it. The practice of thinking is developed in childhood through a long step by step process. The child has to learn how to think and thinking takes effort. This is why a proper education is critical. The purpose of Montessori education is to guide that child through that process, teaching him how to reason by using an organized, logical, clear, consistent, and integrated method. A fundamental element of that method is individualism.
Individualism is the doctrine that the interests of the individual are ethically paramount, that all values and rights originate in individuals, and that human conduct should be guided by such a doctrine. It emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Unlike Karl Marx, Maria Montessori placed the individual higher than the group. She viewed the individual child as the most important part of the education process:
The educator must be as one inspired by a deep worship of life, and must, through this reverence, respect, while he observes with human interest, the development of the child’s life… There exists only one real biological manifestation: the living individual; and toward single individuals, one by one observed, education must direct itself. (The Discovery of the Child)
She thought that the starting point in education was the individual child himself, not the group:
…Our starting point must be the revelation of the characteristics of the human individual. (The 1946 London lectures)
The nature of this educational work begins to take shape. It consists in cultivating the immense potential of the individual in order that his hidden energies may develop wholesomely. (Citizen of the World)
She even said that when the child learns how to command his will, it must express his individual soul, not merely the characteristics of his species. (The Secret of Childhood)
Montessori’s view of individualism is incongruent with the social justice movement that views people as groups, rather than individuals. The child in the Montessori method is not viewed primarily as a group member. The child is not created by the group, nor is he determined by the group. The child creates himself, and he does it by using his free will: “A child chooses what helps him to construct himself.” The child self-creates; he can choose his own qualities, actions, and behaviors and is responsible for his own character. He also builds his reasoning powers with his free will. “Free choice is one of the highest of all mental processes.” (The Absorbent Mind)
Social justice proponents do not accept free will, and because of that they end up promoting racism:
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. (Ayn Rand)
Racism is deterministic; it does not accept free will. It does not recognize any ability of a person to think for himself, come to his own conclusions, and form his own character. Racism is the lowest, crudest, and most evil form of judging and relating to others. Social justice warriors hold that peoples’ attitudes are determined by circumstances beyond their control such as skin color. That is the very definition of racism. In reality, they are the real racists running around having the audacity to accuse others of being racist.
To say that a group is inherently evil means that no one in that group has any choice as to his character or actions. He cannot change because he has no control over who he is. He has no free will. In other words, he has no brain. But he does have a brain, and it is only through the use of his reasoning powers that the child is able to understand the difference between good and evil, and make a choice between them. If he is told that he is racist because of the color of his skin, and he believes it, he will cower in shame. The social pressure from other children to agree that he is racist will cause his reasoning skills to collapse in fear.
Individualism and social justice are antagonists. Placing groups above individuals is devastating. If children begin to regard each other as groups with pre-determined racist characteristics rather than individuals with chosen behaviors, it will kill the Montessori Method. They will feel the need to “fit in” somewhere in order to feel worthwhile and accepted. They will begin to feel frightened of each other as they fear rejection based on their skin color or some other irrelevant factor. You will see them start to form gangs, just like in the progressive schools, and those gangs will fight with each other, and the peace that we have seen in our classrooms will disappear.
Montessorians should be leaders, not followers. They need to have the courage to stand alone against what they know to be wrong. Determinism is incorrect. Accusing someone of being racist based on their birth is immoral and a slap in the face at reason, and the organizations and teachers promoting social justice are traitors to the educational method that bears the name Montessori. They need to reverse course immediately.