Raising ‘Reflective Rebels’

Normalisation is the unencumbered, unconditional response to being in communion with one’s environment

Dr Philip Snow Gang

I was bowled over by Alfie Kohn’s workshop “Raising Decision-Makers at School and at Home” at the online Montessori Reimagined Conference which took place this Sunday. It made me reflect deeply on my practice both as a parent and as an early years teacher.

Kohn’s view is that “children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” He suggests that both as parents and as teachers, we must become “autonomy-supportive” which requires that children be allowed to generate their own possibilities, not merely select from among adult-generated options. Kohn advocates that we should not be aiming for compliance or obedience – our hope for our children, surely, is that they become questioning individuals who have the strength to look at dysfunctional situations and say “this is terrible, this needs to change”.

By giving a child true agency over their lives, by trusting them by involving them in decisions that affect their lives, Kohn suggests we help them become the “reflective rebels” this world needs. How well this view sits alongside Dr Philip Snow Gang’s view on normalisation which he describes as “the unencumbered, unconditional response to being in communion with one’s environment” (Journey to Sacred Montessori, 2016).

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