Maria Montessori's thinking and work presents some of the most liberating ideas about education to be found on the planet.
Here's her answer to a question about how the set-up of her classrooms advances excellent social skills which prepare the child for a life of productive work, trade, collaboration, and individual expression. It's from the Association Montessori Internationale website, in the section under Montessori's articles and letters.
"This article was first published in the Call of Education Vol, 1. No. 1, 1924.
"If the children in a Montessori school work individually rather than collectively how will the be able to prepare themselves for social life?
"Social life does not consist of a group of individuals remaining close together, side by side, nor in their advancing en masse under the command of a captain like a regiment on the march, nor like an ordinary class of school children.
"The social life of man is founded upon work, harmoniously organised and upon social virtues - and these are the attitudes which develop to an exceptional degree amongst our children. Constancy in their work, patience when having to wait, the power of adapting themselves to the innumerable circumstances which present themselves in their daily contact with each other, reciprocal helpfulness and so on, are all exercises which represent a real and practical social life and which we see, for the first time, being organised amongst the children in a school. In fact, whereas schools used to be equipped only so as to accommodate children, seated passively side by side, who were expected to receive from the teacher (we might almost say in a parasitic manner), our schools, on the contrary, have an equipment which is adapted to all those forms of work which are necessary in an active and independent little community.
"The individual work in which the child is able to isolate himself and to concentrate, serves to perfect his individuality and the nearer man gets to perfection, the better is he able to associate harmoniously with others. A strong social movement cannot exist without prepared individuals, just as the members of an orchestra cannot play together harmoniously unless each individual has been thoroughly trained by repeated exercise when alone."
An advocate of individualism down to the root.