By: Sarah Ortmann (3/22/12)
One day, my sister handed me a packet of unmarked “mystery” seeds. My eyes lit up with excitement as I placed a tiny seed in a pot filled with fresh soil. Every day I watered the little seed, watched for it to grow, and waited. I observed thetiny seed sprout and begin to grow unfamiliar leaves. As the leaves began to wilt, I moved the plant into more sunlight and as the roots spread out I replanted it to a bigger pot. I reached out for advice and searched for clues on what my plant was going to be and how I could best care for it. I waited for it to bloom beautiful bright flowers. I waited for it to give off a wonderful scent so I could use it in cooking. I waited and wondered what joy it would bring and what purpose it served.
A year passed and still there was nothing from my mystery plant. I wondered if my plant served any purpose at all or if I was just growing a weed. I had given the plant everything it needed and I began to feel frustrated that there was nothing more I could do. Then, one day when I least expected it, tiny green clusters formed between the leaves. My heart fluttered as I screamed, “You did it little plant! You are broccoli!” After a long period of waiting, my plant had finally shown its true self to me.
It is amazing how much we can learn from a tiny seed. You can plant a seed in the richest soil, but then all you can do is wait for it to grow. You can give it just the right amount of sunlight, water, and space, but it is up to the plant to grow strong and root itself firmly. You can hope for a sunflower, dream of a grapevine, and wish for basil, but all your thoughts will not change what the seed is going to become. All you can do is give the plant the best possible environment and tend carefully to its needs.
Just like the mystery seed, the young child enters the world full of potential and with an internal energy that drives him to grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually on his own. As adults, our responsibility is not to make the child grow or determine what he will become or decide for him his purpose in life. Instead, it is our responsibility to observe the child and provide him with the ideal conditions to promote optimal development and remove any obstacles that may hinder his growth.
As adults, we play an important role in aiding the child in her vital task of self-construction and adaptation to the world. We can do this by weeding to remove obstacles, cutting back to encourage healthier growth, and giving just the right amount of water and sunlight so she can thrive. We must be constantly conscious in our actions, because even the smallest thing we do can have the greatest impact on the child during this vital time when she is working to construct her personality. Most importantly, we must be patient and trust that with the proper care and when the time is right, the full potential of the child will be reveled to us.
“We are here to offer to this life, which came into the world by itself, the means necessary for its development, and having done that we must await this development with respect.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori