Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Self-Starters: Hold on Tight!

John Paul II said, "Become who you are."  The Montessori approach allows children to develop their interests, become self-starters, and find their vocation.  But beware!  You could say that both the fruits of and the price of a Montessori-ish education can be passionate hobbies!

In our oldest son this has taken the form of collecting broken things and taking them apart, as well as a host of other messy pursuits.  In our second child it has taken the form of culinary messes (yummy ones!), hand-sewn costumes and artworks using all sorts of media.  What messy, inconvenient interests do YOUR children have?

Last night I had to attend a parent meeting at school.  While I was gone, "Tesla" (our oldest)--who is about to leave the nest for college--decided to finally try out a Tesla coil he built a couple of years ago.  This is what happens when I'm gone for two hours.  Sigh.  But it's a good thing (sigh), in general (I tell myself), because he's using his God-given gifts and steadily growing knowledge to build and practice and mess up and learn.  Or so I tell myself.

The one short year he had in a Montessori preschool seemed to leave an indelible mark on Tesla. He has always been project-oriented, and enjoys working with his hands. So when he reached high school, he launched into a series of increasingly complicated science projects. In sophomore year, he built his own Tesla coil, using copper tubing and drier vent tubing from the hardware store. His father, "Gandalf," refused to let him turn it on, thinking that he might electrocute himself. But since Tesla is starting college soon, Gandalf finally let him turn it on last night. And it worked! (This was all outside, well away from the house and other kids or pets). In the first picture, you can see sparks shooting off of the Tesla coil. In the second picture, he's holding a fluorescent light bulb that is not connected to anything. Energy from the Tesla coil flows into the bulb and lights it up. 

With an environment that provides the raw material and that is merciful enough to put up with messes your children can find out who God made them to be.

Here are a few photos of creations made by "Wasabi" :

Many, many messes were created alongside each project/experiment/creation.  But if your child is driven to create or experiment, try to allow what you can.  Let them work with their hands! You never know where it will lead...


  1. A full circle...this brought tears to my eyes!

    P.S. that is a beautiful meringue on the pie, not an easy feat!

  2. Your post has touched me in so many ways. As a mom of two boys, the house is always full blown when they begin collecting their toys then dismantling the newer ones and making them into new toys. Messy and quite disheartening indeed since those toys can be quite pricey. But your post was an eye opener. You are such an inspiration and your kids are awesome. Truly, you let them practice the talents that God has given them by allowing them to engage with messy yet very fruitful experiments.

  3. Your children are amazing! And they're lucky to have been montessori-zed and for having really supportive parents.