Elizabeth Knox Online

“Teach me to do it myself” is a concept in the Montessori education philosophy. It’s the idea of helping a child only as far as they need your help. You should transition the activity you’re doing with them over to them as soon as their abilities allow for it.

The idea is that children should always be growing in their abilities, and you shouldn’t keep them helpless or totally dependent on you for everything.

It’s a spiritual principle as well. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about the idea of milk versus solid foods. When you are an infant, you need pure milk because your digestive system isn’t developed enough to handle real food. The same is true for spiritual infancy. But the expectation is that you will grow spiritually and be able to handle more solid food (harder questions and bigger decisions). God desires that as we grow in our knowledge of Him, we grow in the ability to walk according to His will. We are able to feed ourselves (study the Word) and make Godly decisions because we know who He is and listen to His voice.

It’s a philosophy in children’s education, and a spiritual concept, and it also applies to our jobs.

There’s certainly a time to outsource things that are not your strength or a time to enlist help. But sometimes we keep asking for “milk” because it’s easier. We don’t want to learn how to do the hard things.

Safinatun Najah Montessori Kindergarten photo sourced from Creative Commons via flickr. Used with permission from amrufm's photo stream.

Safinatun Najah Montessori Kindergarten
photo sourced from Creative Commons via flickr. Used with permission from amrufm's photo stream.

And sometimes we keep doing things for other people, even though we shouldn’t. If we’re a manager or leader, our job is to help people do their jobs themselves. We should have confidence in the people on our teams and we should find ways to help them overcome the hard parts of their jobs. We should not make them more dependent on us by doing everything for them.

As you grow in your professional abilities, keep challenging yourself. And as people around you grow, keep challenging them.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To ““Teach me to do it myself””

  • Jason Buckner

    March 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    That first paragraph is our parenting philosophy in a nice nutshell.
    Shopping with my daughter is awesome; I just follow her around the store and reach things on the high shelves. She does all the rest.
    Cashiers at our local grocery store have FINALLY gotten used to interacting directly with her (she’s 8) instead of over her head (at me).

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