Children help out…

 

Jean Liedloff the anthropologist describes the home life of the Yequana Indians. She writes; “I was present at the first moments of one little girl’s working life. She was about two years old. I had seen her with the women and girls, playing as they grated manioc into a trough. Now she was taking a piece of manioc from the pile and rubbing it against the grater of a girl near her. The chunk was too big; she dropped it several times trying to draw it across the rough board. An affectionate smile and a smaller piece of manioc came from her neighbour, and her mother ready for the inevitable impulse to show itself, handed her a tiny grating board of her own. The little girl had seen the women grating as long as she could remember and immediately rubbed the nubbin up and down her board like the others. She lost interest in less than a minute and ran off, leaving her little grater in the trough and no noticeable inroads on the manioc. No one made her feel her gesture was funny or a “surprise”; the women did, indeed, expect it sooner or later, as they are all familiar with the fact that children do join in the culture, thought their approach and pace are dictated by forces within themselves. That the end result will be social, cooperative and entirely voluntary in not in question” (The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff p91)

She adds; “ If [the child] feels safe, wanted and “at home” in the midst of activity before he can think, his view of later experiences will be very distinct in character from those of a child who feels unwelcome, un-stimulated by the experiences he has missed and accustomed to living in a state of want, thought the later experiences of both may be identical” (TCC p50) Many children in our society whilst surrounded by vast quantities of toys and other things, are living in just such a state of want, i.e. deprived of what they really need, the environment which provides them with “true freedom, purposeful activity and cultural involvement” (P13  Basic Montessori “ by David Gettman) , together with the adult role models they need to make this accessible.