The adagium ‘freedom within limits’ or ‘freedom within bounds’ is strictly taken not by Montessori, however, the Dutch Montessori movement found in Erikson’s views a solid psychological approach for the guidance of freedom which is paramount in Montessori education. In primary education, classrooms are carefully and thoughtfully designed to encourage children to move about freely and choose their own work, within reasonable limits of appropriate behaviour. Those limits are the classroom ground rules and enable children to exercise their own free will while ensuring that their chosen activities are respectful of others and their environment. In the third plane, this concept is enriched with the development of the adolescent. Developing self-regulated discipline within that freedom is significantly important for the ‘we don’t do what we want, we want what we do’ attitude. Adolescents also frequently challenge the set boundaries to develop autonomy and learn to stand on their own feet, make their own mistakes, and learn from them. Furthermore, the young adult is discovering that the ‘real world’ is also a place of freedom within bounds. There are legal, physical, psychological, moral, social, ecological, and loving responsibilities shaping the stewardship of this planet. To connect to others, a deep understanding, discipline, and empathy must be developed. Therefore, Montessori's third plane offers choice within the personality and academic development in form, test, time, with whom, and how often also in content. The only choice that is not optional is not to work, for all work is noble, apart from not working.
Most works of Montessori focus directly or indirectly on freedom. Here are a few suggestions in relation to freedom, discipline, social contracts, boundaries, and obedience.
From Childhood to Adolescence - Appendix A: “Erdkinder” page 56 and onwards
The London Lectures - Lecture 33 page 234
Obedience and freedom in choices page 236
The Absorbent Mind - Chapter The child’s conquest of independence pages 81, 82, 83 Chapter Cohesion in the social unit pages 219/220 Chapter the teacher’s preparation: Discipline and freedom: page 259
Education and Peace Chapter ‘The education of the individual'
The secret of Childhood Chapter Further Developments page 124/125
Erik Erikson (1902-1994)