Maria Montessori

Maria
Montessori
1870
1952

Italian Educator, Physician and Humanitarian, Creator of the Montessori Method

Author Quotes

Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants - doing nothing but living and walking about came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning: Would you not think I was romancing? Well just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child's way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.

The child has other powers than ours, and the creation he achieves is no small one; it is everything.

The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind.

The child's progress does not depend only on his age, but also on being free to look around him.

The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child?s whole personality.

Our aim in education in general is twofold, biological and social. From the biological side we wish to help the natural development of the individual, from the social standpoint it is our aim to prepare the individual for the environment?All education of little children must be governed by this principle ? to help the natural psychic and physical development of the child? The functions to be established by the child fall into two groups: 1) the motor functions by which he is to secure his balance and learn to walk, and to coordinate his movements; 2) the sensory functions through which, receiving sensations from his environment, he lays the foundations of his intelligence by a continual exercise of observation, comparison and judgment. In this way he gradually comes to be acquainted with his environment and to develop his intelligence.

Real freedom is a consequence of development.

Swaddling clothes have for many centuries been considered necessary to the new-born babe, walking-chairs to the child who is learning to walk. So in the school, we still believe it necessary to have heavy desks and chairs fastened to the floor. All these things are based upon the idea that the child should grow in immobility, and upon the strange prejudice that, in order to execute any educational movement, we must maintain a special position of the body;?as we believe that we must assume a special position when we are about to pray.

The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will be using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption. The child?s development follows a path of successive stages of independence.

The child simply takes up an attitude of profound isolation, and the result is a strong peaceful character, radiating love on all around. Arising from this attitude are self-sacrifice, unremitting work, obedience, and at the same time a joy in living, like a bright spring that sprang up among surrounding rocks, and is destined to help all living creatures around it. The result of concentration is an awakened social sense, and the teacher should be prepared for what follows: to these little newborn hearts she will be a creature beloved.

The child's true constructive energy, a dynamic power, has remained unnoticed for thousands of years. Just as men have trodden the earth, and later tilled its surface, without thought for the immense wealth hidden in its depths, so the men of our day make progress after progress in civilized life, without noticing the treasures that lie hidden in the psychic world of infancy.

The exercises of practical life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment. Such adaptation to the environment an efficient functioning therein is the very essence of a useful education.

Our educational aim must be to aid the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual and physical personality, and not to make of the child a cultured individual in the commonly accepted use of the term.

Repetition is the secret of perfection, and this is why the exercises are connected with the common activities of daily life. If a child does not set a table for a group of people who are really going to eat, if he does not have real brushes for cleaning, and real carpets to sweep whenever they are used, if he does not himself have to wash and dry dishes and glasses he will never attain any real ability.

The activity of the child has always been looked upon as an expression of his vitality. But his activity is really the work he performs in building up the man he is to become. It is the incarnation of the human spirit.

The child in the postnatal (or psychological) period of his embryonic life, absorbs from the world about him the distinctive patterns to which the social life of his group conforms?.He absorbs in short, the mathematical part?..the little child?s need for order is one of the most powerful incentives to dominate his early life.

The child strives to assimilate his environment and from such efforts springs the deep-seated unity of his personality. This prolonged and gradual labor is a continual process through which the spirit enters into possession of its instrument. It must continually maintain its sovereignty by its own strength, lest movement give place to inertia or become uniform and mechanical. It must continually command, so that movement, removed henceforth from the guidance of a fixed instinct, shall not lose itself in chaos. Hence a creation that is always in process of realisation, an energy always freshly constructive, the unceasing labor of spiritual incarnation. Thus the human personality forms itself by itself, like the embryo, and the child becomes the creator of the man, the father of the man.

The concept of an education centered upon the care of the living being alters all previous ideas. Resting no longer on a curriculum, or a timetable, education must conform to the facts of human life.

The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.

Now the adult himself is part of the child's environment; the adult must adjust himself to the child's needs if he is not to be a hindrance to him and if he is not to substitute himself for the child in the activities essential to growth and development.

Our experience with children in elementary schools has shown us that the age between six and twelve years is a period of life during which the elements of all sciences should be given. It is a period that, psychologically, is especially sensitive and might be called the sensitive period of culture during which the abstract plane of the human mind is organized.

Rewards and punishments, to speak frankly, are the desk of the soul, that is, a means of enslaving a child's spirit, and better suited to provoke than to prevent deformities.

The adolescent must never be treated as a child, for that is a stage of life that he has surpassed. It is better to treat an adolescent as if he had greater value than he actually shows than as if he had less and let him feel that his merits and self-respect are disregarded.

The child is an enigma? He has the highest potentialities, but we do not know what he will be.

The child wants to do something sensible.

Author Picture
First Name
Maria
Last Name
Montessori
Birth Date
1870
Death Date
1952
Bio

Italian Educator, Physician and Humanitarian, Creator of the Montessori Method