The Importance of Valorization
One of the things that I love about the Montessori education system is its focus on developing independence and confidence and instilling self-esteem in children.
In fact, one of the central tenets of that system is Valorization. I was reminded of this in a recent video from the RPMS school (which is where my kids went). Valorization is about:
“…Letting the child know that they are capable, letting the child know that they can do things and that they are empowered…allowing the child and helping the child to develop independence and the ability to do things for themselves.”
I love this idea and it’s one of the reasons that my wife and I kept our kids in the Montessori system through eighth grade. It’s also why I believe (yes, admittedly with some possible bias) that kids with Montessori educations tend to be more confident, more able to take charge and do what they think/believe needs to be done. From looking an adult in the eye and holding a thoughtful conversation, to taking charge of a work project and ensuring things get done as and when needed, to ensuring the right level of quality in anything they do.
(To be fair, I’m not suggesting other educational approaches don’t lend themselves to these traits or abilities, I just personally think the Montessori approach - appropriately applied - more readily lends itself to these types of results.)
The key point I’m trying to make is that, whatever the approach to getting there, this idea of self empowerment/self-belief is an essential one, and one that has to begin in childhood. And we see its results in both cases - when it’s inculcated appropriately and when it’s not - well into adulthood:
When those we work with need to be told what to do in specific concrete steps versus being given the overall objective and then being asked to figure out the solution.
When thrown into a brand new untested situation and the individual either takes charge and plots a course - regardless of whether it is certain to succeed or not - or they hesitate, flounder and freeze.
When the basis of one’s self-esteem isn’t tied to any one person or thing or event, rather they know what they can do and can accept or reject external influence (reasonably) to do what’s right and what’s needed.
We also see it in the patterns and behaviors of the managers we may work with:
Those who specify every step that needs to be done versus trust their team to achieve.
Those beholden to structures and hierarchies as a means to survive and thrive.
Those who cannot handle the success of a team member without attributing that success to themselves in some way - overtly or otherwise.
Those who will not let go of their control because, basically, they’ve not been taught to trust.
The point is, we see the implications all around us, and they’re built into belief systems and behaviors and thinking over many, many years, either directly through our own learned experiences or taught to us - explicitly or implicitly - through those we work with and for.
It’s embedded into our cultures with disastrous ramifications at the one end (where it isn’t present) and tremendous success at the other (where it is).
Of course, none of this is to suggest that you can’t change as an adult, because I absolutely believe that you can. But it’s far harder, and it requires a fundamental rethink of much of what we hold dear, demanding real trust, both in ourselves and in others. It’s absolutely worth the effort, though.