In Montessori education, it's okay not to share
A child's right not to share their materials, teaches them they are worthy of respect. Although this may be a little hard to understand for adults initially, when one thinks carefully through it, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Take for example your morning coffee and croissant. Imagine being forced to share half the coffee and your breakfast croissant with a colleague. Take another example - a coworker comes along, and takes your keyboard from under your fingers as you're typing an important email.
Imagine being told you have to share everything at work. No work would ever be done. In everyday life, we as adults have the right to work in a solitary manner, and life requires us to work alone in many situations.
Children in Montessori education feel empowered and secure in the knowledge that they can complete their work without interference or being "forced" to share.
In mainstream education there is much emphasis on sharing every activity, whereas Montessori educators and parents following the Montessori pedagogy respect the child's right to work alone if they so desire; they give the child the right to work in a state of concentration.
One may wonder if a child does not have to share, how will they learn to share in the future?
By not being forced to share, children develop a sense of security and liberty which in turn creates the right conditions for spontaneous and voluntary sharing to occur. All of this occurs naturally without the need for the educator to intervene. Children are very adept at developing their own methods of negotiation, cooperation and collaboration.
In Montessori education, children should be given as many opportunities as possible to work together in groups, both small and large. Social skills such as taking turns, listening and negotiating rules of play, will develop through planned and spontaneous open-ended play opportunities.
Children should be offered a range of Montessori materials which are designed to be used by several children, encouraging the emergence and development of team work and sharing.
- Maxim Ross