Maria Montessori


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

Author Quotes

The adult has a mission to fulfill which has been so complicated and intensified that he finds it ever harder to suspend it as he must do if he is to follow the child, adapting himself to the child's rhythm and the psychological needs.

The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.

The child whom we have robbed of his own will becomes difficult; we believe that by doing things for him we will do him some good.

The didactic materials control every error. It is precisely in these errors that the educational importance of the material lies.

The first phase of the child's development goes from birth to, let us say, six years of age. At this stage the child is partly at home, partly in school. The plane of education should take both the situations into consideration.

Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs. He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language? Very soon afterward, at one year of age, the child begins to walk? So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn?Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom.

Our little tables and our various types of chairs are all light and easily transported, and we permit the child to select the position which he finds most comfortable. He can make himself comfortable as well as seat himself in his own place. And this freedom is not only an external sign of liberty, but a means of education. If by an awkward movement a child upsets a chair, which falls noisily to the floor, he will have an evident proof of his own incapacity; the same movement had it taken place amid stationary benches would have passed unnoticed by him. Thus the child has some means by which he can correct himself, and having done so he will have before him the actual proof of the power he has gained: the little tables and chairs remain firm and silent each in its own place. It is plainly seen that the child has learned to command his movements.

Schools as they are today are adapted neither to the needs of adolescence nor to the time in which we live.

The aim is not to create a cultural mind, but a spiritual soul based on reality. Therefore, history should not be taught as a collection of dates and places. But rather be approached to arouse gratitude and appreciation. This gratitude should be aroused first to the law and order of the universe and the preparation of the environment into which human beings came.

The child is by nature a worker, and when, by working in this special fashion, which is according to his nature, he can accomplish a great deal of work without ever feeling fatigue. When he works in this way he shows himself to be happy and by working in this way he also becomes cured of certain psychic anomalies that he had, and by curing himself of these he enters into a more natural form of life.

The child whose attention has once been held by a chosen object, while he concentrates his whole self on the repetition of the exercise, is a delivered soul in the sense of the spiritual safety of which we speak. From this moment there is no need to worry about him - except to prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection.

The directress must intervene to lead the child from sensations to ideas.

One day some little spirit awakens; the ego of some child takes possession of some object; attention becomes fixed on the repetition of some one exercise; executive skill perfects itself; the irradiation of the child's countenance indicates that its spirit is being born anew.

Our schools show that children of different ages help one another. There are many things which no teacher can convey to a child of three, but a child of five can do it with ease.

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.

The average intelligence of normal children is low compared to that of normalized children. Because their energies have been misdirected, they are like children with broken bones who have need of special care if they are to become physically fit again.

The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. He has shown us the true process of construction of the human being. We have seen children totally change as they acquire a love for things and as their sense of order, discipline, and self-control develops within them... The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.

The child... in his eagerness for knowledge has revealed himself as a true son of that humanity which has been throughout centuries the creator of scientific and civil progress.

The education of a very small child does not aim at preparing him for school but for life.

One detail that is commonly misunderstood is the distinction between teaching a child how he should act, but leaving him free in the practical application of this freedom, and that which is followed in other systems of education, namely, of imposing the will and power of an adult upon the child and thus guiding him in all his actions.

Peace is a practical principle of human civilization and social organization that is based on the very nature of man. Peace does not enslave him; rather, it exalts him... And because it is based on man?s nature, it a constant, a universal principle that applies to all human beings. This principle must be our guide in building a science of peace and educating men for peace.

She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.

The basic error is to suppose that a person?s will must necessarily be broken before it can obey.

The child is essentially alien to this society of men and might express his position in the words of the Gospel: My kingdom is not of this world.

The child?s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path. A vital force is active within him, and this guides his efforts towards their goal. It is a force called the ?horme?, by Sir Percy Nunn.

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