I was at a Montessori school in New Haven last week and got to spend some time watching primary kids ages 3 years to 5 years in their classroom. Montessori primary classrooms have an area called practical life that is filled with activities like sweeping, washing, cutting, pouring. For the uninitiated it is a little disconcerting to see children in school apparently “working” rather than learning.
We forget that for millennia human children lived lives that were very different from the ones they lead now. They were outdoors, they explored, the moved, they encountered dangers, they learned through experience. Our society has evolved rapidly over the last 100 years, but our basic human nature, our brains and our physical bodies have not.
Research across a range of disciplines suggests that what we are currently seeing as disorders in our society – from diabetes to obesity to ADHD — are echoes of our past, something we cannot easily escape and certainly can’t afford to ignore.