January 18, 2010 § 4 Comments
in her book titled, the montessori method, published in 1912, maria montessori boldly states in her first chapter, “the principle of slavery still pervades pedagogy, and, therefore, the same principle pervades the school. I need only give one proof – the stationary desks and chairs.” an uncommon enemy – the school desk…
young students were expected to remain seated during instruction at school and as a result the scientific community at the time became concerned about the health of their spines. the resulting innovation in education was the school desk. optimal chair height, desktop to chair distance, footrest positioning & spacing amongst peers were all taken into account. she writes that, “not a few nations have become proud of their ‘national desk,’ – and in the struggles of competition these various machines have been patented.”
but perhaps they missed the forest for the trees. maria montessori seems to wonder – if children’s spines were not designed to support a seated posture in lengthy lectures, perhaps also children’s minds were not. i wonder – what is our society’s school desk? are we guilty of allocating our limited resources to answer tree problems, not forest problems?