Making Room for Children's Autonomy: Maria Montessori's Case for Seeing Children's Incapacity for Autonomy as an External Failing

Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (3):332-350 (2016)

This article draws on Martha Nussbaum's distinction between basic, internal, and external capacities to better specify possible locations for children's ‘incapacity’ for autonomy. I then examine Maria Montessori's work on what she calls ‘normalization’, which involves a release of children's capacities for autonomy and self-governance made possible by being provided with the right kind of environment. Using Montessori, I argue that, in contrast to many ordinary and philosophical assumptions, children's incapacities for autonomy are best understood as consequences of an absence of external conditions necessary for children to exercise capacities they already have internally, rather than intrinsic limitations based on their stage of life. In a closing section, I show how Montessori proposes a model wherein both children and adults have autonomy, power, and responsibility, but over different spheres, and suggest implications of these differences for who has responsibility for establishing the conditions under which children can flourish.
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9752.12134
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References found in this work BETA

The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

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Citations of this work BETA

Maria Montessori's Epistemology.Patrick R. Frierson - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (4):767-791.
Solitude and Self‐Realisation in Education.Julian Stern & Małgorzata Wałejko - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 54 (1):107-123.

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