Process Over Product
Your child’s artistic abilities are evident in the smallest details of their everyday life, from their gas and drool to the art they bring home from school. But what truly defines your child as an artist? Is it the final product they create, or is it the process of creation? This fundamental question lies at the heart of Montessori education, where emphasis is placed on valuing the process over the product.
Why We Don’t Just Look at Results
Living in a product-oriented society, we tend to focus on tangible outcomes rather than the effort and intention behind them. This shift has led to complaints about children lacking work ethic and respect. By solely valuing results, we overlook the invaluable work that leads to those outcomes.
The Value of Process Over Product
In the Montessori environment, arranging flowers or cleaning up a mess is done for the sake of the process. The beauty of a flower arrangement lies in the child’s effort and the way they approached it according to their own preferences. The purpose of the activity isn’t to fill the room with beautiful flower arrangements or to give them away; it’s about the child engaging in the process, developing focus, refining motor skills, and cultivating a sense of order. The child finds satisfaction in the act of creation itself, with the arrangement becoming almost secondary. Focus, motor skills, order, and process are intangible elements that are easily overlooked in favor of the flowers. In our Montessori environment, we choose to honor the child’s effort and concentration.
Honoring Effort and Concentration
The good news for you as a parent is that you no longer have to feel guilty about discarding your child’s art. The value lies not in the painting itself, but in the experience and feelings your child had while creating it. By celebrating their efforts, you can validate their satisfaction with the process. So, the next time you see your child engaging in something you might not fully understand, let it be. Know that they are gaining something invaluable, even if it isn’t something tangible.
Margaret Stephenson, in her book The Art of Montessori in the Home, wisely reminds us of the stark contrast between adult and child perspectives:
“We have to remember as adults that we want things done, and as quickly as possible, so that they are finished and out of the way; whereas the child is interested and content in the doing, not the done.”
This quote encapsulates the essence of valuing the process over the product in Montessori education.
In a world that often prioritizes the end product, Montessori education reminds us of the importance of valuing the process. By embracing the journey of creation and recognizing the intangible qualities developed along the way, we can nurture confident, independent children who find joy and fulfillment in the act of doing.
The principle of “process over product” holds true for all of our Toolboxes, but you may find a special joy in watching your child work through the Art Appreciation toolbox as they mix their own paints!