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“A second side of education at this age concerns the child’s exploration of the moral field, discrimination between good and evil. He no longer is receptive, absorbing impressions with ease, but wants to understand for himself, not content with accepting mere facts. As moral activity develops he wants to use his own judgment, which often will be quite different from that of his teachers.”—Maria Montessori (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)
Children in the upper elementary ages are beginning to strive towards independence in all aspects of their lives, and an important part of this developing identity is morality. This manifests differently in every child, but they are all focused on honing their sense of self. Some will challenge authority when they perceive that authority to be “wrong”, and others will seek ways to reinforce the moral system passed down by their family. Some will spend their time and energy exploring every facet of the concept of morality, which can lead them to topics that teachers and parents might consider somewhat taboo for a child, but it’s important to balance the reaction to that exploration with the understanding that simple curiosity is not the same as interest or fascination.
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