This is the season when nervous mommies are frantically visiting schools, trading notes with other mommies about who is signed up for what in the fall, exchanging critiques of competing programs, etc. I thought of this as I recently re-read something by G. K. Chesterton in Heretics:
But there are some people, nevertheless--and I am one of them--who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, is it important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy's numbers, but still more important to know the enemy's philosophy.When we are choosing a place for our child to spend a big chunk of his or her waking hours we should know something about the worldview of the staff and--for older children--even the worldview of the other children attending the school. I've visited very expensive Montessori schools where even the youngest children were hard at work but no one smiled (adults included). I've changed my mind about sending our kids to a well-known, academically rigorous school because, after spending some time in the carpool pick-up line, I sensed that the middle school children lacked the innocence, light and joy my own children had. I withdrew our oldest from a preschool after just one day when I saw his classmate fall down on the march back to the classroom and no one except our 3-year-old had the compassion to stop and ask if his classmate was okay.
Montessori wrote about the absorbent mind of the young child. What about his absorbent heart? His attitudes and beliefs and character and habits of loving are all being shaped by the people with whom he will spend his waking hours. Please make sure that hours are spent with the best of souls.