In Her Words

In her book, The Secret of Childhood, Dr. Montessori writes about her experiences in the original Casa dei Bambini and dignity:

“One day I decided to give the children a slightly humorous lesson on how to blow their noses. Since after I had shown them different ways to use a handkerchief, I ended by indicating how it could be done as unobtrusively as possible. I took out my handkerchief in such a way that they could hardly see it and blew my nose as softly as I could. The children watched me in rapt attention, but failed to laugh. I wondered why, but I had hardly finished my demonstration when they broke out into applause that resembled a long repressed ovation in a theatre. I had never heard such tiny hands make so much noise, and I had no idea that such small children would applaud so enthusiastically. It then occurred to me that I had perhaps touched a sensitive spot in their little social world. Children have a particular difficulty in blowing their noses. since they are constantly being scolded on this score, they are sensitive about it. The shouts they hear and the insulting epithets that are hurled at them hurt their feelings. And insult is added to injury when they finally end up wearing at school a handkerchief blatantly pinned to their smocks so that they will not lose it. But no one really teaches them how they should blow their noses. When I tried to do so, they felt compensated for past humiliations, and their applause indicated that I had not only treated them with justice but had enabled them to get a new standing in society. Long experience has taught me that this is a proper interpretation of the incident. I have come to appreciate the fact that children have a deep sense of personal dignity.”

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