Fantasy and CGS

Sometimes I wonder if the reason children get so caught up with fantasy is that they haven’t been in touch with the greatest of all realities – that of spirituality – and for Roman Catholics and Christians (and other monotheistic religions) – with God.  It was hard for me to unravel this idea – the greatest of all realities being God – until I “discovered it by myself”.

The thing is, there is so much wonder in this world – in nature and in human nature – and so many amazing phenomena – to satisfy the child’s deep need for awe, wonder and mystery.  Adults think they are doing children a favour by replacing it with magic and fantasy, but they are not.  I am not saying there is no place for fantasy.  Fantasy, particularly to the older child (i.e. over the age of 7), has its place.  However, the best fantasy is always written by someone with a thorough and deep understanding of the real world.  So, even for the older child, we should always bear in mind that reality should be the basis for everything.

So I really wonder if the reason children get “hooked” on fantasy so easily (and so addicted to it) is that deep down, they have a need for the awe, wonder and mystery that nature (and from my own interpretation, ultimately, God) provides.  The “magic” that fantasy provides hooks them – and the way mass media and merchandising works, the adult-driven fantasy hooks the child repeatedly (unless, of course, the child is protected by a more discerning adult).  The child, unknowingly, has his needs “satisfied” superficially, not to mention his senses (depending on the media) overstimulated.  He falls deeper and deeper into the world created by the adult, thinking (and of course, innocently believing) that that world is a “real” world.  However, his needs are not actually met… and thus we see deviant behaviour (i.e. deviant as defined by Montessori).

Why does merchandising work so well?  CGS explains it to me.  In CGS, the children use the materials (in particular, handmade representations of either people in the bible or parables described in the bible) to meditate on scriptural passages.  For the 3-6 child, what is given to the hand is extremely important.  Children don’t learn the way we ourselves were taught to believe they should be taught.  They learn by being, by touching.  So you can imagine why the child is consumed, say, by the princess toys.  Imagine day in and day out, the child is bombarded with videos and story books filled with disney princess stories.  Then, as a child tries to make sense of it all, she is given several disney princess dolls so that she can reenact those stories.  Imagine the amount of reinforcing that is occurring!  And yet, the child is not calm; often is not serenely joyful (although she may be boisterously excited).

But why is CGS or any religion using the Montessori approach different from fantasy, one might ask?  Well, the answer, again, as always, is in the child –   i.e. how incredibly normalized the child becomes when he or she works in a CGS environment.  There is such serenity, such joy, such inner peace and calm. The quality of contemplative prayer a young child in a proper CGS environment exhibits has astounded many.  In CGS, we do not “teach” the children, the children learn by themselves, as we believe that the ultimate inner teacher is at work.  Non-believers may say that it is biological, but for those in the CGS movement, we believe that ultimate inner teacher is God himself.

Just my thoughts anyway.

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