STUDY OF HUMAN NATURE: DR. MARIA MONTESSORI,  FOUNDER OF THE NEW EDUCATION MOVEMENT IN EUROPE

Theme: Dr. Maria Montessori called for a revolution in society's approach to human development and education. She was the founder of the 'new education' (along with Ovide Decroly). According to the philosophy of the 'new education', character building is a question of auto-construction and children must be helped in their own work of constructing their character. This contrasts with the philosophy of the 'old education' according to which  children have to be 'taught' the values which adults admire.

"There is only one problem, and it is human development in its totality; once this is achieved in any unit - child or nation - everything else follows spontaneously and harmoniously". (Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential.Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961. p.13)

"Montessori was calling for a revolution in society's approach to human development and education" (Introduction Paula Polk Lillard Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.)

 "The new education is a revolution, but a revolution without violence. It is the nonviolent revolution." (Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. Translated from Italian by Claude A. Claremont. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1967. 215)

  From the beginning of life, education plays a fundamental role in the development of the personality. The aim of education is the balanced development of the personality - the whole personality, the integrated personality. "...the child is urged from within towards certain specific activities which he performs with great concentration and joy. The activities are linked with the inner formation of functions that only later are integrated and appear as manifest characteristics." Children first work independently, observing others and especially older children. Collaboration with others is a natural next step. Older children participate in the activities of younger ones. The younger children learn from the older ones. Cooperation - not competitiveness - is the natural result. Cooperation with others enhances the feeling of security and stimulates further exploration of their world. A natural by product of the communal experience is repect for others and for the environment.(Montessori)

  Biography 

  Dr. Maria Montessori was a life-long advocate of the cause of the child and referred to herself as an 'ambassadress for the cause of the child'  (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44)

.  Maria Montessori was not originally a pedagogue... . it was only towards the end of her career that she gained world fame as a pedagogue and became one of the founders of the 'new education movement' of the 20th century which for educational theorists is called the 'century of the child'.

... student of Edouard Seguin. Seguin studied the education of retarded children and is considered to be the father of special education. Seguin was inspired by Dr. Jean Itard and his account of the 'sauvage de l'Aveyron' - a feral child or 'wolf-child' of ten years old found in the forests of Aveyron, France in 1798. Itard educated him for five years and demonstrated that mental development is impaired without human contact. He showed that language and social context are necessary for the complete development of a child's intelligent socialisation and intellectual faculties.

.... the first woman physician in Italy.

... later became professor of Anthropology and Hygienics at the University of Rome. While a professor, she participated actively in the movement for women's emancipation. Montessori was trained in the scientific approach, from her background in medecine and anthropology.

... goal was to contribute to a comprehensive 'science of man'. She believed such a science was possible if it were based on a pluralistic approach - the study from different perspectives and the integration of findings into a broad conceptual framework.

 

 Scientific observations  Montessori had a revolutionary vision of education based on her study of children. Based on the fact that the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity. Her scientific observations of children demonstrated that 'forced education' which is based on political ideologies interferes violently with children's natural developmental growth process. Montessori thought of childhood as the continuation of the embryonic process occurring after birth. She referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously'. referring to the child's spiritual ability as the 'absorbent mind'. She defined human development as 'a continuous process in which the individual remains the same psychosomatic entity while constantly adapting to changes in the environment'. In human development, certain fundamental patterns and sequences of development are hereditary, but individual behaviour is shaped through interaction with the environment i.e. learning through experience or 'experiential learning'.  

Montessori the anthropologist... method Montessori's anthropological orientation formed the basis for her wholistic wiew of the evolution of the human organism. Her anthropological studies of children led to her 'discovery' of what she considered to be the function of the child in human evolution... to serve as a link between generations in the evolutionary process. In this context, the function of the education of children becomes the continuation of a natural learning growth  process which is necessary for the continuation of the species as a cultural species.

 Her orientation in her study of children was anthropological. As physician and anthropologist, Montessori had a global or 'wholistic' view of the child. She claimed that in order to understand children, one should look at their humanity and treat them as fellow human beings. Her scientific study of human nature as manifest in the humanity of children was a study in 'natural philosophy'.

She created real life conditions of choice and independence, and observed them engaging in many unexpected activities such as working in silent concentration for long periods of time, showing harmony and patience with one another, demonstrating self-discipline and independence without adult control or direction. She discovered that the child spontaneously reveals itself with qualitites such as self-discipline, independence, precocious intelligence, love of order and sentiments of sympathy for others. She called this 'normalized' behavior because it is normal when a child is allowed naturally to expand their consciousness of the three principles - observation, individual liberty and preparation of the environment. A profound inner preparation takes place in the child as he grows.

  Montessori based her theories of human development on her direct observation of children. Montessori was a genius who believed that  "All children are born geniuses...genius does its own thinking; it has confidence in its own exploratory findings, its own intuitions, in the knowledge gained from its own mistakes.... Maria Montessori fortunately was permitted to maintain, sustain, and cultivate her innate genius. Her genius invoked her awareness of the genius inherent in all children. Her intuition and initiative inspired her to discover ways of safeguarding this genius while allaying the ignorant fears of parents" (ix-x) (An Appreciation of Montessori, Buckminster Fuller, 1975. Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.)

Because the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity. Montessori's anthropological orientation led to her 'discovery' of the child. The discovery: the realization of the specific function of the child in the formation of man and as the link between generations in mankind's cultural evolutions. She thought of childhood as the continuation of the embryonic process occurring after birth. Development of children after birth is psychological as well as physical, depending on the social environment for normalization. - normal development. After birth the embryo becomes the 'spiritual embryo'. The spiritual ability is referred to as the 'absorbent mind.' (See Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential. Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961) As well as of a physical order, child development is of a psychological order because it requires the active participation of the individual. Education of children becomes the continuation of a natural growth process required for the continuation of the species as a cultural species.

In 1907 Dr. Montessori started her first 'Children's House' experiments with young children.She created real life conditions of choice and independence and made scientific observations of children at work. Although the parents were illiterate- children learned to read and write by five years old.  She discovered that the child spontaneously reveals itself with qualitites such as self-discipline, independence, precocious intelligence, love of order and sentiments of sympathy for others and observed them engaging in many unexpected activities such as working in silent concentration for long periods of time, showing harmony and patience with one another... without adult control or direction, they could work harmoniously and patiently ..., demonstrating self-discipline and independence without adult control or direction. She called this 'normalized' behavior because it is normal when a child is allowed naturally to expand their consciousness of the three principles - observation, individual liberty and preparation of the environment. A profound inner preparation takes place in the child as he grows. Teachers need to undergo the same inner preparation before they can guide children in their development. Trained in the scientific approach, from her medical background, Montessori based her theories of human development on direct observation of children. Children have a capacity for free development when mental oppression is removed and the spirit is allowed to grow. With her scientific aproach to the child, the 'normal' being of the child is expressed through activity.  Montessori's Children's House experiments can be considered laboratories of the study of human nature.

Children's House: parents were illiterate- children learned to read and write by five years old. Montessori's Children's House experiments can be considered laboratories of the study of the nature of man. She made scientific observations of children at work. Their development was shown to derive from natural 'laws' of development.

"The events which seeemed at first so astonishing in our schools are really due only to the working of natural laws. Studying the behavior of these children and their mutual relationships in an atmospshere of freedom, the true secrets of society come to be revealed. These are facts so delicate and refined that a spiritual microscope is needed to discern them, but their interest is immense, for they show us the true nature of man. Therefore, we look on these schools of ours as laboratories of psychological research, though we mean by this, not research as commonly understood, but that these are places especially suited for child observation. " (The Absorbent Mind 228)

She discovered that through spontaneous activity in a prepared environment, they naturally developed ethical characteristics related to the human value system. Children spontaneously revealed their natural qualitites such as self-discipline, independence, precocious intelligence, love of order and sentiments of sympathy for others. They had an instinctive sense of community, and would instinctively help each other. They would learn to solve their own problems, to admire the best in others without being envious. Without offering unasked for help, they would learn the social values of patience and cooperation, of respect for the efforts of others. Montessori called this 'normalized' behaviour because it represented the child's normal being.

 In 1912 she began to discuss her discoveries in the field of child education.

 "Maria Montessori began discussing her discoveries in the field of child education in 1912. Her observations of the child revealed that characteristics related to the value system were developed through spontaneous activity in a prepared environment. Adults must help the child to function freely in this environment. This help corresponds to the intrinsic needs inherent in the pattern of development, and follows his own tempo. Montessori demonstrated that under these conditions the child is urged from within towards certain specific activities which he performs with great concentration and joy. These activities are linked to the inner formation of functions that only later are integrated and appear as manifest characteristics. The goal of Montessori education is the formation of the child's whole personality. In the beginning, the child works mainly independently, but it observes what others around it do, especially the older children. Presently it starts to collaborate with others. The older children participate in the activities of younger ones and help them in a natural way that both enjoy. Instead of competitivness, there is cooperation. This enhances the children's feeling of security and stimulates them to further exploration of their world. Respect for others and for the environment comes as a natural byproduct of the freedom within a community they experience." (105)

 Discoveries  In her scientific studies of children Montessori discovered that under these conditions the 'normal' being of the child- their natural expansion of consiousness is expressed through activity. The child's consciousness is naturally expanded in the process of engagement with great concentration and joy in certain specific activities. The child's activities are linked to the inner formation of cognitive functions which only later become integrated and appear as manifest characteristics. A profound inner preparation takes place in the child with growth and activity in an environment which provides optimal conditions for expansion of consciousness. Such an environment is a 'prepared environment'.

Maturational changes... 'sensitive periods'  Montessori recognized various maturational stages of development in moral or 'sociocognitive' development and in intellectual or 'cognitive development'. She called them the 'sensitive periods'. She recognized that each child follows their own tempo but depends on the help of adults whose responsibility it is to help the child to function freely in a prepared environment. She was interested in facilitating the child's development during the sensitive periods and in meeting the needs which they represented. She devised materials to meet the children's recognizable needs during their sensitive periods. Furthermore, the help of adults should correspond to the intrinsic needs which are part of a natural pattern of development.

see Montessori principles

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bruner, Jerome Toward a Theory of Instruction, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 1966

 Bruner, Jerome. Process of Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1966

Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.

Maria Montessori, Education and Peace, Chicago: Regnery, 1972

Phillipe Aries, Centuries of Childhood, New York: Knopf, 1962

 Helena Miller "A Proposal for the Improvement of Education in America

 The Absorbent Mind. Translated from Italian by Claude A. Claremont. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1967.

Given that the first essential for the child's development is concentration, the environment is planned and prepared with their interests and developmental needs as guidelines. The environment is equipped with materials which are designed and chosen on the basis of the children's preferences. While the children concentrate on their 'work', their reactions, behavior and remarks are observed objectively without interference  children learn the social value of patience and cooperation; children try to solve their own problems; children respect other children's efforts without offering unasked for help; children admire the best in people without being envious; children have an instinctive sense of community; children instinctively help the weak - instinct for social progress and cooperation;  The psychological value of work in school:  Montessori's anthropological orientation led to her 'discovery' of the child. The discovery: the realization of the specific function of the child in the formation of man and as the link between generations in mankind's cultural evolutions. She thought of childhood as the continuation of the embryonic process occurring after birth. As well as of a physical order, child developmentis of a psychological order because it requires the active participation of the individual. Education of children becomes the continuation of a natural growth process required for the continuation of the species as a cultural species.

 Forced education based on political ideologies interferes violently with children's natural developmental process. The child has inherent powers which facilitate self-construction and self-realization. These are the 'absorbent mind' and 'sensitive periods'. This process of inner construction needs the help of adults.

 Montessori believed that as a species, mankind has been abandoned during its formative period and for this reason is a threat to its own survival."We are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae, that the child hides in himself when he enters this world to renew mankind " I believe that humanity is still far from that stage of maturity needed for the realization of its aspirations, for the construction, that is, of a harmonious and peaceful society and the elimination of wars. Men are not yet ready to shape their ownn destinies; to control and direct world events, of which-instead-they become the victims". ( The Absorbent Mind 3).

 "What is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?" (The Absorbent Mind. 4)

The Montessori teaching method consists of a knowledgeable committment and expression of the three fundamental principles, 'observation', 'individual liberty', and 'preparation of the environment'. The teacher with the spirit of the scientist, humble, inquiring, and open-minded, can legitimately offer guiding direction for growing children as they emerge into a true 'normalized' nature with the 'normal' qualities which reveal themselves spontaneously when a child is guided by properly trained teachers. Subconscious failings of personality which persist in the adult life will be in opposition to the emergence of the child's true nature. Because the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity.  

 "The scientist is not the clever manipulator of instruments, he is the worshipper of nature... the thing we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist... the direction of the preparation should be towards the spirit rather than towards the mechanisms." (Maria Montessori Montessori Method 8-9)

She referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously' (101) To understand the 'child', one must look at the humanity of children. Her scientific study of human nature as manifest in the humanity of children was a study in 'natural philosophy'. For her, children were fellow human beings. Hers was an anthropological orientation in her study of children. Her aim was to contribute to a comprehensive science of man. (5) She believed such a science was possible if based on a pluralistic approach - the "concerted endeavors of different scientists studying human beings from whatever angles modern science permitted and the integration of their findings into a sufficiently broad and differentiated conceptual matrix."

 PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION TO WORK: (67 Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44)

The 'normalized' child's activities of work (are) related to the inner construction of the personality. The motivation to learn derives from this source. Teaching which corresponds to this motivation is functional in the child's development. The child's response is the best guide for the teacher. The child's interest and concentration indicates the extent of effectiveness of the teaching methodology in opractice. The child loses motivation when the work is directed to an external goal. Teaching for external goals is not functional in the child's development. Montessori suggested ecology be a vehicle for coordination of different subjects (Montessori, Mario. Education for Human Development 70)

"The objective of education is not the production of self-confident fools".  (Bruner, Jerome. Process of Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1966 page 65)

Montessori suggested ecology be a vehicle for coordination of different subjects (Montessori, Mario. Education for Human Development 70) 

Real aim of education is learning for the sake of learning itself... not the imparting of knowledge. Learning is a feature of human development... the need to learn cannot be met without education.

 Material added to the environment is stimulating to the child. If it has always been there it becomes part of the scenery and is not noticed. (71) (Mario Montessori. Education for Human Development 95)

MONTESSORI GAVE EXPRESSION TO THE PSYSCHOLOGICAL VALUE OF WORK... NORMALIZATION THROUGH WORK

"Children who have been prevented from developing fully often show character traits that disappear when they become normalized through work. A common one is possessiveness. In the normalized child, his freedom to take an interest io all kinds of things leads to his focusing his attention not on the things themselves, but on the knowledge her derives from them." (219) In the unnormalized individual the desire to possess is accompanied by a desire to destroy. With normalization, desire to possess becomes transformed into desire for knowledge. The ability to work is an important aspect of the individual throughout life. She felt that succeeding by one's own efforts and at the same time being in contact with the reality of life which work represents, enhances the integrity of the personality. "The child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience 'work'. (88)

"The child seeks for independence by means of work. Little does he care about the knowledge of others; he wants to acquire a knowledge of his own, to have experience of the world, and to perceive it by his own unaided efforts. ...To curb his freedom is to make him degenerate."....Normalization comes through concentration on a piece of work. For this we must provide 'motives for activity' so well adapted to the child's interests that they provoke his deep attention. ...The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages his whole personality....Only 'normalized' children aided by their environment, show in their subsequent development those wonderful powers that we describe: spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others.. Activity freely chosen becomes their regular way of living....An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the chid's energies and mental capacities and leads him to self-mastery."(207)

 

Development and independence require complete freedom. "Only through freedom and environmental experience is it possible for human development to occur."(90) Children have a capacity for free development when mental oppression is removed and the spirit is allowed to grow. "Real freedom is a consequence of development.; it is the consequence of latent guides, aided by education. It is the construction of the personality, reached by effort and one's own experiences; it is the long road which every child must take to reach maturity... Development cannot be taught. "The child's own strongest instinct is to free himself from adult control."(218) It is not a matter of 'will' but a natural 'law'. The natural laws of growth and formation are to be respected for children to build character, the inner self. Character building is a matter of natural creation, not education. (Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind)

 The ability to work is an important aspect of the individual throughout life. She felt that succeeding by one's own efforts and at the same time being in contact with the reality of life which work represents, enhances the integrity of the personality.

Difference between Montessori and Piaget (Geneva School): Concept of 'readiness for learning': Piaget emphasizes the maturational development of the child through the stages of preoperational, operational, and formal operational thinking. The child is considered 'ready' to learn any subject at any age, providing it is approached on the right level. Montessori also recognized maturational stages of development - the 'sensitive 'periods which include physical, emotional and cognitive development. She was less interested in defining these stages than in meeting the needs of the child which they represented. She did not consider whether a child was 'ready' to learn any particular subject, but rather devised her materials solely to meet the recognizable needs of the child during various sensitive periods. The phrase 'readiness for learning' is not used in Montessori education. Instead "aiding the child's development in its sensitive periods". (Editor Paula Polk Lillard p. 72) (Montessori lectured at the Dutch Montessori Society in Utrecht)

 The period of 'schooling' is the period of natural learning process for preparation of life as an adult human being. Children strive to become adult human beings. Achieving self-realization is achieving adulthood. The striving towards self-realization is hereditary. According to Montessori, the lack of proper education hinders development towards self-realization and restricts the individual's achievement of mature adulthood characteristic of the human being and of humanity. Physical growth to adulthood without the concomitant psychological growth results in immature human beings without human attributes; with distorted and unbalanced value systems which contradict the interests of their humanity. They are capable of thought and behaviour patterns which can inflict grave harm on themselves and their fellow human beings. Children do not become human beings with the attributes of humanity unless provided with the education which is conducive to their proper psychological development. Man's purpose in life is to improve his lot. This requires an intrinsic relation between himself and his environment. Man discovers that it is only through his own activity with his intelligence, his hands and his tools that he can change his environment to meet his survival needs. Work is a fundamental feature of the human being as a species, and an adaptive , creative, and social function par excellence....It is one of the ain spheres of human behaviour" M. Montessori 49

  Education - from the beginning of life - plays a fundamental role in the development of the personality. Aim of education is the proper - balanced - development of the personality. Dependent on the possibilities provided by the environment, children strive to achieve their personal aims. Children strive for self-realization within the context of their environment. With the guidance of the adult, children achieve self-realization through interaction with their immediate environment - becoming one with their environment. Continued development into independent and mature personalities depends on their education - a long and indirect process of preparation for a life of freedom as independent and mature adults. (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development 75)

Montessori education should be an aid to life

“In humans, certain fundamental patterns and sequences of development are hereditary, but individual behaviour is shaped through experience and interaction with the environment”. (Mario Montessori, Education for Human Development 101)

 Montessori's was a global view of man. Human development is a continuous process in which the individual remains the same psychosomatic entity while constantly adapting to changes in the environment".

"It is not so important which facts one teaches the student, because very often these facts are obsolete by the time they can be used. It is more important to help him to develop his potentialities so that he can rely on his own ability to cope with the unexpected and to solve whatever new problems crop up. He must be helped to feel independent in his own world". Montessori's 'absorbent mind' in children refers to their spiritual ability. 

 "Not in the service of any political or social creed should the teacher work, but in the service of the complete human being, able to exercise in freedom a self-disciplined will and judgement, unperverted by prejudice and undistorted by fear"  Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential.Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961.3)

 "The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be grown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core....we seek to help the child in his growth, mental and emotional as well as physical". ( Maria Montessori To Educate the Human Potential 15)   

 "Obedience is no mechanical thing, but a natural force of social cohesion, intimately related to the will, even its sublimation. Obedience of the right kind is a sublimation of the individual's will, a quality in the human soul without which society could not exist. But an obedience without true self-control, an obedience which is not the consequence of an awakened and exercised will, brings whole nations to disaster". (Maria Montessori To Educate the Human Potential 123)

human development and perception of reality as level of consciousness or awareness of error or 'critical consciousness';  product of freedom to learn and freedom to make mistakes.

"The scientist is not the clever manipulator of instruments, he is the worshipper of nature...the thing we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist... the direction of the preparation should be towards the spirit rather than towards the mechanisms." (Maria Montessori Montessori Method 8-9)

Montessori showed that children have a capacity for free development when mental oppression is removed and the spirit is allowed to grow. "The children are the makers of men."(4)

"The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.... education must start from birth... 'Education' must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers.

The child's true constructive energy, a dynamic power, has remained unnoticed for thousands of years.... From the earliest dawn of man's life on earth, these energies have been repressed and nullified...It is the child himself who presents us with revelations of man's spirit. He brings to our knowledge a kind of psychic life totally different from that of adults

No longer is is the professor to apply psychology to childhood, but it is for the children themselves to reveal their psychology to those who study them....The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has power to teach himself.

 SCIENCE EDUCATION requires FREEDOM IN EDUCATION which means FREEDOM TO MAKE MISTAKES, TO LEARN THE VALUE OF MISTAKES, TO LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES. Bruner proposes research which should include a study of Montessori's work. (Bruner, Jerome. Process of Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1966.) (Bruner page 65)

 PHILOSOPHY OF THE NEW EDUCATION "The new education is a revolution, but a revolution without violence. It is the nonviolent revolution." (215) The 'new education' philosophy: to help children's auto-construction. The old education philosophy: children have to be 'taught' the values which adults admire.

Aim of education : education should be an aid to life

Though she was a life-long advocate for the cause of the child, Maria Montessori was not originally a pedagogue. She gained world fame as a pedagogue towards the end of her career. Her aim was to contribute to a comprehensive science of man. (5) She believed such a science was possible if based on a pluralistic approach - the "concerted endeavors of different scientists studying human beings from whatever angles modern science permitted and the integration of their findings into a sufficiently broad and differentiated conceptual matrix."

She had a global view of human development: She defined human development as "a continuous process in which the individual remains the same psychosomatic entity while constantly adapting to changes in the environment."  Montessori was influenced by the work of Dr. J.M. Itard (Rapports et Memoires sur le Savage de l'Aveyron, l'Idiotie et la Surdi-mutite, Paris 1807, English translation by George and Muriel Humphrey, Century, New York, 1932) he showed that mental development is impaired without human contact. Montessori based her theories of human development on direct observation of children. ( Maria Montessori, Education and Peace, Chicago: Regnery, 1972)

 The child  has inherent powers which facilitate self-construction and self-realization. These are the 'absorbent mind' and 'sensitive periods'. This process of inner construction needs the help of adults. She referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously' (101) To understand the 'child', one must look at the humanity of children. Her scientific study of human nature as manifest in the humanity of children was a study in 'natural philosophy'. For her, children were fellow human beings. "In humans, certain fundamental patterns and sequences of development are hereditary, but individual behaviour is shaped through experience and i teraction with the environment." (Absorbent Mind 101 check) She had a revolutionary vision of education based on her study of children. "Montessori was calling for a revolution in society's approach to human development and education" (Introduction Paula Polk Lillard Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.) She referred to herself as an 'ambassadress for the cause of the child'.(Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44) What is needed is a peaceful revolution for the defense of the construction of human normality - defense for the child's inner development. "The knowledge of the little child's mental development has to become widely diffused, for only then will education be able to speak with a new voice, and say to the world with authority: "The laws of life are such and such. They cannot be ignored. You must act in conformity with them, for they proclaim the rights of man which are universal and common to all." "The children are the makers of men."(4) "The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.... education must start from birth... 'Education' must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers. The child's true constructive energy, a dynamic power, has remained unnoticed for thousands ofyears.... From the earliest dawn of man's life on earth, these energies have been repressed and nullified...It is the child himself who presents us with revelations of man's spirit. He brings to our knowledge a kind of psychic life totally different from that of adults....No longer is the professor to apply psychology to childhood, but it is for the children themselves to reveal their psychology to those who study them....The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has power to teach himself. (5) On education: "It is not so important which facts one teaches the student, because very often these facts are obsolete by the time they can be used. It is more important to help him to develop his potentialities so that he can rely on his own ability to cope with the unexpected and to solve whatever new problems crop up. He must be helped to feel independent in his own world." (75) Dependent on the possibilites provided by the environment, children strive to achieve their personal aims. They strive for self-realization (self-actualization) within the context of their environment. Continued development into independent and mature personalities depends on their education - a long and indirect process of preparation for a life of freedom as independent and mature adults. The individual in cultural context is shaped by the cultural education. With the guidance of the adult, children achieve self-realizatioon through interaction with their immediate environment - through play and work (two means of interaction) becoming one with their environment. With her scientific approach to the child, the 'normal' being of the child is expressed through activity.

 The psychological value of work in school: PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION TO WORK: (67 Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44)

"The 'normalized' child's activities of work (are) related to the inner construction of the personality. The motivation to learn derives from this source. Teaching which corresponds to this motivation is functional in the child's development. The child's response is the best guide for the teacher. The child's interest and concentration indicates the extent of effectiveness of the teaching methodology in opractice. The child loses motivation when the work is directed to an external goal. Teaching for external goals is not functional in the child's development." Her observations of the child revealed that characteristics related to the value system were developed through spontaneous activity in a prepared environment. Adults must help the child to function freely in this environment. This help corresponds to the intrinsic needs inherent in the pattern of development, and follows his own tempo. Montessori demonstrated that under these conditions the child is urged from within towards certain specific activities which he performs with great concentration and joy. These activities are linked to the inner formation of functions that only later are integrated and appear as manifest characteristics. Material added to the environment is stimulating to the child. If it has always been there it becomes part of the scenery and is not noticed. (71) Method: Given that the first essential for the child's development is concentration, the environment is planned and prepared with their interests and developmental needs as guidelines. The environment is equipped with materials which are designed and chosen on the basis of the children's preferences. While the children concentrate on their 'work', their reactions, behavior and remarks are observed objectively without interference Observations: Children learn the social value of patience and cooperation; Children solve their own problems; Children respect other children's efforts without offering unasked for help; Children instinctively help the weak - instinct for social progress and cooperation; Progress comes from helping the weak not oppressing and despising the weak. Science of medicine has grown from the principle of helping the weak, the sick, the dying; Children admire the best in people without being envious; Children have an instinctive sense of community. (Absorbent Mind 222-231) Conclusion: "Those human attributes which are of value to the child in a social setting are the same attributes which we call 'virtues'. As a social organism, the child is happy in his work in a social environment in which the attributes for adaptation to the social environment are the same as the so-called 'virtues'. Virtues are of survival value for the social human organism. Virtues and the value life are of survival vlue and therefore biologically based. The philosophical analysis of 'virtues' becomesa equivalent to the biological analysis of the social values."

 BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF VIRTUE. The goal of Montessori education is the formation of the child's whole personality. In the beginning, the child works mainly independently, but it observes what others around it do, especially the older children. Presently it starts to collaborate with others. The older children participate in the activities of younger ones and help them in a natural way that both enjoy. Instead of competitivness, there is cooperation. This enhances the children's feeling of security and stimulates them to further exploration of their world. Respect for others and for the environment comes as a natural byproduct of the freedom within a community they experience."(105) "What is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?" (4) Education is to help the mind in its process of development Real aim of Montessori education is not the imparting of knowledge for the sake of learning itself. Rather, it encourages learning, because LEARNING IS A FEATURE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, a need that cannot be met without education. Education is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature. (89) The Absorbent Mind. Translated from Italian by Claude A. Claremont. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1967. Montessori believed that as a species, mankind has been abandoned during its formative period and for this reason is a threat to its own survival. We are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae, that the child hides in himself when he enters this world to renew mankind." "The greatest danger lies in our ignorance. We know how to find pearls in the shells of oysters, gold in the mountains and coal in the bowels of the earth, but we are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae that the child hides in himself when he enters our world to renew mankind." (Maria Montessori The Asorbent Mind 240) "I believe that humanity is still far from that stage of maturity needed for the realization of its aspirations, for the construction, that is, of a harmonious and peaceful society and the elimination of wars. Men are not yet ready to shape their own destinies; to control and direct world events, of which - instead- they become the victims." (The Absorbent Mind 3)

 

CHARACTER BUILDING IS THE CHILD'S OWN ACHIEVEMENT:

 "Children construct their own characters...they result from a long and slow sequence of activities carried out by the child himself between the ages of three and six.....no one can 'teach' the qualities of character...The only thing we can do is to put education on a scientific footing so that children can work effectively without being disturbed or impeded." (208) Good character is necessary for effective learning. Without character there is no 'drive' or concentration. With concentration, the child interacts with his environment. Without the power of concentration, the individual becomes enslaved by the environment. With concentration comes perseverence. The unfolding of character is entirely natural - with critical periods like the period of cocoon construction in in the caterpillar. The critical period for character formation is between ages three and six - called the 'constructive' period. Periods of growth: First period ages 0-3 first three years; Second period ages 3-6 second three years - child becomes susceptible to adult influence; third period ages 6-12 clam and happy period; fourth period 12-18 (12-15 and 15-18); See Montessori, The Secret of Childhood. Orient Longmans, Bombay, Calcutta. Madras, 1951 (1sr ed. Longmans Green & Co. Ltd. , London, 1936)

Gibran The Prophet, Heineman G.B. and Knopf, New York, 1948, p.33 "Work is love made visible." INFLUENCE OF MONTESSORI ON DECROLY: SUGGESTION OF ECOLOGY AS VEHICLE FOR COORDINATION OF DIFFERENT SUBJECTS

 : transformation from desire to possess to desire for knowledge comes with 'normalization' and maturity. Character building necessary for true 'science education' which is education for knowledge and not for possession. Possessiveness is an infantile trait. With normalization, it becomes transformed into a desire for knowledge of how things work. The desire for knowledge becomes the secondary interest of possessiveness. "Children who pick flowers because they want them soon throw them aside or pull them to pieces. Here, the mania for possession does go side by side with the mania for destruction. But if the child knows the kind of flower, the kind of leaf it has, or the branching pattern of its stem, then it will not occur to him to pick it or to damage it. He will want to study it. His interest has become intellectual and his posessiveness takes the form of knowledge. "The transformation involves a raising of consciousness from one of possessiveness to one of love and understanding. Transformation of the child's possessivess in the growth process of normalization: A desire to destroy the object is transformed to an intellectual desire to understand the object. The normalized child learns to love the object through understanding it. The child learns to love the environment and treat it with care and delicacy. With normalization, the desire to possess is transformed to love and care. Science education is education for love and understanding. The desire to possess and destroy is not science education.

 With normalization and growth to maturity, science education for possession and destruction through creative intelligence is raised to a higher level of consciousness is transformed science education for knowledge, understanding and love. "To know, to love, and to serve is the trinomial of all religions, but the child is the true maker of our spirituality. He teaches us the plan of nature for giving form to our conduct and character, a plan fully traced out in all its details of age and work, with its need for freedom and intense activity in accordance with the laws of life. What matters is not physics, or botany, or works of the hand, but the will, and the components of the human spirit which construct themselves by work. The child is the spiritual builder of mankind, and obstacles to his free development are the stones in the wall by which the soul of man has become imprisoned." (Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind 221) Basis of experiments is the knowledge that "the first essential for the child's development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behavior. He must find out how to concentrate, and for this he needs things to concentrate upon.This shows the importance of his surroundings, for no acting on the child from outside can cause him to concentrate. Only the child can organize his own psychic life. None of us can do it for him. It is is here that the importance of our schools lies. They are places in which the child can find the kind of work that permits him to do this."(222) Adults must help the child function freely in the prepared environment. The dhelp should correspond to the intrinsic needs inherent in the child's pattern of developpment. It should follow the cild's personality even if the child's developmental pattern is inadequate to cope withg the adult's life situation (77). (For a lucid account of insights of psychoanalysis see Anna Freud, Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Childhood. New York: International Universities Press, 1966) Freedom in school means freedom to work and freedom to learn. Freedom to work requires organization. Freedom without organization isnot conducive to work or to learning. Freedom to learn precludes teacher praises, prizes, threats, punishments or corrections. Teacher interference lowers the child's energies and interests. Mistakes are functional in growth and development. Learning is a function of correcting one's own mistakes. A child naturally learns from his errors and naturally corrects his own mistakes. Errors have a function in science, the human activity of acquiring knowledge. Scientific measurements are always appproximatiions and account for margins of error. Calculation of margins of error account for the value of scientific measurement. In order to correct mistakes, one must first know how to identify them. Denial of error makes it impoosible to identify and correct mistakes. Inability to admit one's mistakes removes the possibility of improvement and correction. impossible to think rationally. Making errors is not as important as becoming aware that one is making an error. Errors which are not identified and corrected are repeated. Children in their work should have a way to identify and correct their own mistakes. Failure to correct errors results in illusion and distsorted perceptions of reality. See scientific principle called the 'control of error.' To be scientific, one must be able to control one's errors. One must be aware of error and check for error to decrease chances of distorting relity. Scientific reality is a measure of the awareness of error. One must show positive interest in errors and mistakes - it is the awareness of error which guarantees scientific objectivity. Decisiveness of character results from the ability to see and correct one's mistakes. In science and in education one must learn to recognize one's mistakes. Progress comes from freedom to make mistakes, to recognize mistakes and to correct mistakes. Errors divide human beings. Admission of errors serves to link human beings in fellowship. In science, errors must remain impersonal and amenable to control - principle of 'control of error'.

 DISORDER AND VIOLENCE ARE SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE AND SUFFERING (The Absorbent Mind 243) They are not acts of the will. According to laws of nature, "will is a force which impels activities beneficial to life. The will can be broken in a moment. Its development is a slow process that evolves through a continuous activity in relationship with the environment." "A good manager does not have to be assertive in manner, but he must have a deep sense of responsibility." (262) A good mangaer commands obedience which comes from respect for his sense of responsibility. "Discipline is born when the child concentrates his attention on some object that attracts him and which provides him not only with a useful exercise but with a control of error." (264) "The spiritual life is really built upon the fundamental basis of a unified personality." (266) Teachers need to undergo the same inner preparation before they can guide children in their development. "Grownups and children must join their forces. In order to become great, the grownup must become humble and learn from the child." (Absorbent Mind 293) The teacher with the spirit of the scientist, humble, inquiring, and open-minded, can legitimately offer guiding direction for growing children as they emerge into a true 'normalized' nature with the 'normal' qualities which reveal themselves spontaneously when a child is guided by properly trained teachers. Subconscious failings of personality which persist in the adult life will be in opposition to the emergence of the child's true nature. The Montessori teaching method consists of a knowledgeable committment and expression of the three fundamental principles, 'observation', 'individual liberty', and 'preparation of the environment'. "Forced education based on political ideologies interferes violently with children's natural developmental process." (See CAPITALISM)(Here is the key to the PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION in American culture.

 CAPITALISM AS DENYING THE CHILD THE RIGHT TO BECOME HUMAN: Capitalism denies the child's birthright by denying the child's natural inner strivings toward maturity and humanity. In this way capitalism dehumanizes - it denies the most basic human right - the right to become a fully developed human being, living in harmony with his own humanity - living in freedom. Capitalism corrupts the fpsychological value of work by making people believe that they are pursuing hapiness by working for money. The important thing is not the kind of work which a person does, but the principle of work itself. "All work is noble. The only ignoble thing is to live without work." Furthermore, intellectual and manual work are complementary and "equally esasential in a civilized existence." (Montessori, Childhood to Adolescence, New York: Schocken Books, 1973, 103)

he had a revolutionary vision of education based on her study of children. Though she was a life-long advocate for the cause of the child, Maria Montessori was not originally a pedagogue. She gained world fame as a pedagogue towards the end of her career. She was the first woman physician in Italy. As Professor of Anthropology and Hygienics at the University of Rome, she participated actively in the movement for emancipation of women. Maria Montessosri was a genius. "All children are born geniuses...genius does its own thinking; it has confidence in its own exploratory findings, its own intuitions, in the knowledge gained from its own mistakes.... Maria Montessori fortunately was permitted to maintain, sustain, and cultivate her innate genius. Her genius invoked her awareness of the genius inherent in all children. Her intuition and initiative inspired her to discover ways of safeguarding this genius while allaying the ignorant fears of parents."(ix-x) (An Appreciation of Montessori, Buckminster Fuller, 1975. Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.)

When she began his work with children, there were already important efforts being made to bring about fundamental reforms in education all over the world. Basing her new method on the idea of knowledge through the senses first formulated by Condillac, Dr. Montessori stated that children first perceive the qualities of objects.

 In his observations of children, Decroly concluded that the child first perceived the object itself as a whole (perception globale) and only later was able to make an analysis about its qualities. Observing that children first read a word as a whole, he based his new method on the notion of perception of the whole and formulated the 'global method' for teaching reading.

 Montessori was inspired by the work of Dr. Jean Itard and his account of the 'sauvage de l'Aveyron', a 'wolf-child' found in the woods shortly after the French Revolution. (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development 48)

Montessori and Decroly were the founders of the 'new education' of the 20th century called the century of the child. Starting with the study of the 'abnormal' child, they combined techniques of their precursors with their own inventions.

 The Absorbent Mind. Translated from Italian by Claude A. Claremont. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1967. Montessori believed that as a species, mankind has been abandoned during its formative period and for this reason is a threat to its own survival. "We are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae, that the child hides in himself when he enters this world to renew mankind." "I believe that humanity is still far from that stage of maturity needed for the realization of its aspirations, for the construction, that is, of a harmonious and peaceful society and the elimination of wars. Men are not yet ready to shape their own destinies; to control and direct world events, of which-instead-they become the victims.

 

The Montessori teaching method consists of a knowledgeable committment and expression of the three fundamental principles, 'observation', 'individual liberty', and 'preparation of the environment'. The teacher with the spirit of the scientist, humble, inquiring, and open-minded, can legitimately offer guiding direction for growing children as they emerge into a true 'normalized' nature with the 'normal' qualities which reveal themselves spontaneously when a child is guided by properly trained teachers. Subconscious failings of personality which persist in the adult life will be in opposition to the emergence of the child's true nature. Because the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity.

 "The scientist is not the clever manipulator of instruments, he is the worshipper of nature...the thing we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist...the direction of the preparation should be towards the spirit rather than towards the mechanisms." (Maria Montessori Montessori Method 8-9)

In 1907 Dr. Montessori started her first 'Children's House' experiment with young children. She discovered that the child spontaneously reveals itself with qualitites such as self-discipline, independence, precocious intelligence, love of order and sentiments of sympathy for others. With her scientific aproach to the child, the 'normal' being of the child is expressed through activity. She created real life conditions of choice and independence, and observed them engaging in many unexpected activities such as working in silent concentration for long periods of time, showing harmony and patience with one another, demonstrating self-discipline and independence without adult control or direction. She called this 'normalized' behavior because it is normal when a child is allowed naturally to expand their consciousness of the three principles - observation, individual liberty and preparation of the environment. A profound inner preparation takes place in the child as he grows. Teachers need to undergo the same inner preparation before they can guide children in their development. Trained in the scientific approach, from her medical background, Montessori based her theories of human development on direct observation of children. ( Maria Montessori, Education and Peace, Chicago: Regnery, 1972)

 She referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously' (101)

 To understand the 'child', one must look at the humanity of children. Her scientific study of human nature as manifest in the humanity of children was a study in 'natural philosophy'. For her, children were fellow human beings. Hers was an anthropological orientation in her study of children. Her aim was to contribute to a comprehensive science of man. (5)

She believed such a science was possible if based on a pluralistic approach - the "concerted endeavors of different scientists studying human beings from whatever angles modern science permitted and the integration of their findings into a sufficiently broad and differentiated conceptual matrix." Biographical sketch. She had a revolutionary vision of education based on her study of children. Though she was a life-long advocate for the cause of the child, Maria Montessori was not originally a pedagogue. She gained world fame as a pedagogue towards the end of her career. She was the first woman physician in Italy.

 As Professor of Anthropology and Hygienics at the University of Rome, she participated actively in the movement for emancipation of women. Maria Montessosri was a genius. "All children are born geniuses...genius does its own thinking; it has confidence in its own exploratory findings, its own intuitions, in the knowledge gained from its own mistakes.... Maria Montessori fortunately was permitted to maintain, sustain, and cultivate her innate genius. Her genius invoked her awareness of the genius inherent in all children. Her intuition and initiative inspired her to discover ways of safeguarding this genius while allaying the ignorant fears of parents."(ix-x) (An Appreciation of Montessori, Buckminster Fuller, 1975. Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.)

 "Montessori was calling for a revolution in society's approach to human development and education" (Introduction Paula Polk Lillard Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.) She referred to herself as an 'ambassadress for the cause of the child'.(Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44)

 The psychological value of work in school:

Montessori's anthropological orientation led to her 'discovery' of the child.. the realization of the specific function of the child in the formation of man and as the link between generations in mankind's cultural evolutions. She thought of childhood as the continuation of the embryonic process occurring after birth. As well as of a physical order, child development is of a psychological order because it requires the active participation of the individual. Education of children becomes the continuation of a natural growth process required for the continuation of the species as a cultural species. Forced education based on political ideologies interferes violently with children's natural developmental process. The child has inherent powers which facilitate self-construction and self-realization. These are the 'absorbent mind' and 'sensitive periods'. This process of inner construction needs the help of adults.

PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION TO WORK: (67 Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44) The 'normalized' child's activities of work (are) related to the inner construction of the personality. The motivation to learn derives from this source. Teaching which corresponds to this motivation is functional in the child's development. The child's response is the best guide for the teacher. The child's interest and concentration indicates the extent of effectiveness of the teaching methodology in practice. The child loses motivation when the work is directed to an external goal. Teaching for external goals is not functional in the child's development. . Bruner proposes research which should include a study of Montessori's work. (Bruner, Jerome. Process of Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1966.) (Bruner page 65) "The objective of education is not the production of self-confident fools."

 Montessori suggested ecology be a vehicle for coordination of different subjects (Montessori, Mario. Education for Human Development 70) Material added to the environment is stimulating to the child. If it has always been there it becomes part of the scenery and is not noticed. (71) (Mario Montessori. Education for Human Development 95)

 "Maria Montessori began discussing her discoveries in the field of child education in 1912. Her observations of the child revealed that characteristics related to the value system were developed through spontaneous activity in a prepared environment. Adults must help the child to function freely in this environment. This help corresponds to the intrinsic needs inherent in the pattern of development, and follows his own tempo. Montessori demonstrated that under these conditions the child is urged from within towards certain specific activities which he performs with great concentration and joy. These activities are linked to the inner formation of functions that only later are integrated and appear as manifest characteristics. The goal of Montessori education is the formation of the child's whole personality. In the beginning, the child works mainly independently, but it observes what others around it do, especially the older children. Presently it starts to collaborate with others. The older children participate in the activities of younger ones and help them in a natural way that both enjoy. Instead of competitivness, there is cooperation. This enhances the children's feeling of security and stimulates them to further exploration of their world. Respect for others and for the environment comes as a natural byproduct of the freedom within a community they experience." (105) Real aim of Montessori education is not the imparting of knowledge for the sake of learning itself. Rather, it encourages learning, because LEARNING IS A FEATURE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, a need that cannot be met without education.

The period of 'schooling' is the period of natural learning process for preparation of life as an adult human being. Children strive to become adult human beings. Achieving selfrealization is achieving adulthood. The striving towards selfrealization is hereditary. According to Montessori, the lack of proper education hinders development towards self-realization and restricts the individual's achievement of mature adulthood characteristic of the human being and of humanity. Physical growth to adulthood without the concomitant psychological growth results in immature human beings without human attributes; with distorted and unbalanced value systems which contradict the interests of their humanity. They are capable of thought and behavior patterns which can inflict grave harm on themselves and their fellow human beings. Children do not become human beings with the attributes of humanity unless provided with the education which is conducive to their proper psychological development. Man's purpose in life is to improve his lot. This reuires an intrinsic relation between himself and his environment. Man discovers that it is only through his own activity with his intelligence, his hands and his tools that he can change his environment to meet his survival needs. "Work is a fundamental feature of the human being as a species, and an adaptive , creative, and social function par excellence....It is one of the ain spheres of human behavior." M. Montessori 49)

 MONTESSORI GAVE ESPRESSION TO THE PSYSCHOLOGICAL VALUE OF WORK. The ability to work is an important aspect of the individual throughout life. She felt that succeeding by one's own efforts and at the same time being in contact with the reality of life which work represents, enhances the integrity of the personality.

 

Piaget "emphasizes the maturational development of the child through the stages of preoperational, operational, and formal operational thinking. The child is considered 'ready' to learn any subject at any age, providing it is approached on the right level. Montessori also recognized maturational stages of development - the 'sensitive 'periods which include physical, emotional and cognitive development. She was less interested in defining these stages than in meeting the needs of the child which they represented. She did no t consider whether a child was 'ready' to learn any particular subject, but rather devised her materials solely to meet the recognizable needs of the child during various sensitive periods. The phrase 'readiness for learning' is not used in Montessori education. Instead "aiding the child's development in its sensitive periods." (Editor Paula Polk Lillard p. 72) (Montessori lectured at the Dutch Montessori Society in Utrecht)

INDIVIDUAL IN CULTURAL CONTEXT Dependent on the possibilities provided by the environment, children strive to achieve their personal aims. Children strive for self-realization within the context of their environment. With the guidance of the adult, children achieve self-realization through interaction with their immediate environment - becoming one with their environment. Continued development into independent and mature personalities depends on their education - a long and indirect process of preparation for a life of freedom as independent and mature adults. (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development 75)

 Education - from the beginning of life - plays a fundamental role in the development of the personality. Aim of education is the proper - balanced - development of the personality.

WORK AS A HUMAN PHENOMENON The ability to work is an aspect of the development of the personality, with which it is interrelated. (Walter Neff. Work and Human Behavior. New York: Atherton Press, 1968 )

Work behavior in the development of the personality is functional within the context of goals. Child play is the child's work. Motivation from within -intrinsic motivation- is manifest at certain critical periods or 'sensitive periods' which end when the function of work is performed. If the sensitive periods are not hindered by inner anxieties resulting from repressive pedagogies, then the intensive attraction to the environmment continues to be mediated through the individual's authentic striving to work. Pedagogical methods which take this natural striving for work into consideration are successful in helping the child reach his human potential for self-realization. Educators can help children in the natural stages of human development by offering environmental stimuli which stimulate their inner potentialities at different stages of their development. This is the psychological value of work - as the medium for oneness with the environment, the human being can grow to psychological maturity and fulfill his human potential and achieve happiness- integration with himself and his environment. Organization of schools for humanity depend on the recognition of the psychological value of work in human psychological development. Children themselves can guide us in the planning of environments which wilk help them grow into mature human beings who live by the values which are the special attributes of the human being. If the work involves their total personality, then it is helpful to their development. If the work does not involve their total personality, then it is not helpul to their development. Such work is considered to have little 'formative' value. With work which is meaningful to the child at the different developmental sensitive periods, the child grows up with an increasing capacity to act independently and responsibly. If children, and adults, behave irresponsibly, the fault lies not with them but with the 'education' which they have been offered.

 "In humans, certain fundamental patterns and sequences of development are hereditary, but individual behavior is shaped through experience and interaction with the environment." (Mario Montessori, Education for Hman Development 101)

 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Montessosri's was a global view of man "a continuous process in which the individual remains the same psychosomatic entity while constantly adapting to changes in the environment." "It is not so important which facts one teaches the student, because very often these facts are obsolete by the time they can be used. It is more important to help him to develop his potentialities so that he can rely on his own ability to cope with the unexpected and to solve whatever new problems crop up. He must be helped to feel independent in his own world." Montessori's 'absorbent mind' in children refers to their spiritual ability.

 "The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be grown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core....we seek to help the child in his growth, mental and emotional as well as physical." (15)

The Montessori teaching method consists of a knowledgeable committment and expression of the three fundamental principles, 'observation', 'individual liberty', and 'preparation of the environment'. The teacher with the spirit of the scientist, humble, inquiring, and open-minded, can legitimately offer guiding direction for growing children as they emerge into a true 'normalized' nature with the 'normal' qualities which reveal themselves spontaneously when a child is guided by properly trained teachers. Subconscious failings of personality which persist in the adult life will be in opposition to the emergence of the child's true nature. Because the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity.

 She referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously' (101) To understand the 'child', one must look at the humanity of children. Her scientific study of human nature as manifest in the humanity of children was a study in 'natural philosophy'. For her, children were fellow human beings. Hers was an anthropological orientation in her study of children. Her aim was to contribute to a comprehensive science of man. (5)

 She believed such a science was possible if based on a pluralistic approach - the "concerted endeavors of different scientists studying human beings from whatever angles modern science permitted and the integration of their findings into a sufficiently broad and differentiated conceptual matrix."

"Montessori was calling for a revolution in society's approach to human development and education" (Introduction Paula Polk Lillard Mario Montessori Education for Human Development,New York: Schocken Books, Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976.) She referred to herself as an 'ambassadress for the cause of the child'.(Mario Montessori Education for Human Development.44)

 INDIVIDUAL IN CULTURAL CONTEXT Dependent on the possibilities provided by the environment, children strive to achieve their personal aims. Children strive for self-realization within the context of their environment. With the guidance of the adult, children achieve self-realization through interaction with their immediate environment - becoming one with their environment. Continued development into independent and mature personalities depends on their education - a long and indirect process of preparation for a life of freedom as independent and mature adults. (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development 75)

AIMS OF EDUCATION Education - from the beginning of life - plays a fundamental role in the development of the personality. Aim of education is the proper - balanced - development of the personality

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: "In humans, certain fundamental patterns and sequences of development are hereditary, but individual behavior is shaped through experience and interaction with the environment." (Mario Montessori, Education for Hman Development 101)

 DEFINITION OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Montessosri's was a global view of man "a continuous process in which the individual remains the same psychosomatic entity while constantly adapting to changes in the environment." "It is not so important which facts one teaches the student, because very often these facts are obsolete by the time they can be used. It is more important to help him to develop his potentialities so that he can rely on his own ability to cope with the unexpected and to solve whatever new problems crop up. He must be helped to feel independent in his own world." Montessori's 'absorbent mind' in children refers to their spiritual ability.

AIMS OF EDUCATION "Not in the service of any political or social creed should the teacher work, but in the service of the complete human being, able to exercise in freedom a self-disciplined will and judgement, unperverted by prejudice and undistorted by fear." Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential.Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961.3) "There is only one problem, and it is human development in its totality; once this is achieved in any unit - child or nation - everything else follows spontaneously and harmoniously."(Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential.Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961. p.13)

 

Dr. Montessori stated that children first perceive the qualities of objects. When she began her work with children, there were already important efforts being made to bring about fundamental reforms in education all over the world. At the turn of the century in Europe and America, the concept of social efficiency was challenged. In the minds of some educationists, the concept of creative self-expression began to play an important role. The concept of creative self-expression began to play an important role in the thinking of some educationists (Dewey and Decroly). Educational practice was gradually transformed. The center of orientation of new programs became creative self-expression... rather than social efficiency.... The center of orientation of new programs became child interest ...New programs (Decroly plan) made child interest the center of orientation and the aim of education became the maximum growth of individuality. New programs made child interest the center of orientation. To this day most people will subscribe to one of the two opposing schools of thought on the principle aim of education; adjustment to sociey or self-expression and maximum child growth. Proponents of the latter, the child-centered schools, still constitute a very small minority.

"The child's own strongest instinct is to free himself from adult control."(218) It is not a matter of 'will' but a natural 'law'. The natural laws of growth and formation are to be respected for children to build character, the inner self. Character building is a matter of natural creation, not education. (Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind)

Freedom in school means freedom to work and freedom to learn. Freedom to work requires organization. Freedom without organization is not conducive to work or to learning. Freedom to learn precludes teacher praises, prizes, threats, punishments or corrections. Teacher interference lowers the child's energies and interests. Mistakes are functional in growth and development. Learning is a function of correcting one's own mistakes. A child naturally learns from his errors and naturally corrects his own mistakes.

 Errors have a function in science, the human activity of acquiring knowledge. Scientific measurements are always appproximatiions and account for margins of error. Calculation of margins of error account for the value of scientific measurement. In order to correct mistakes, one must first know how to identify them. Denial of error makes it impoosible to identify and correct mistakes. Inability to admit one's mistakes removes the possibility of improvement and correction. impossible to think rationally. Making errors is not as important as becoming aware that one is making an error. Errors which are not identified and corrected are repeated. Children in their work should have a way to identify and correct their own mistakes. Failure to correct errors results in illusion and distorted perceptions of reality.

"Education is to help the mind in its process of development." "The knowledge of the little child's mental development has to become widely diffused, for only then will education be able to speak with a new voice, and say to the world with authority: "The laws of life are such and such. They cannot be ignored. You must act in conformity with them, for they proclaim the rights of man which are universal and common to all...As well as of a physical order, child development is of a psychological order because it requires the active participation of the individual... "The children are the makers of men."(4) "The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.... education must start from birth... 'Education' must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers. The child's true constructive energy, a dynamic power, has remained unnoticed for thousands of years.... From the earliest dawn of man's life on earth, these energies have been repressed and nullified...It is the child himself who presents us with revelations of man's spirit. He brings to our knowledge a kind of psychic life totally different from that of adults....No longer is the professor to apply psychology to childhood, but it is for the children themselves to reveal their psychology to those who study them....The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has power to teach himself. This is the psychological value of work - as the medium for oneness with the environment, the human being can grow to psychological maturity and fulfill his human potential and achieve happiness- integration with himself and his environment. Organization of schools for humanity depend on the recognition of the psychological value of work in human psychological development. Children themselves can guide us in the planning of environments which will help them grow into mature human beings who live by the values which are the special attributes of the human being. If the work involves their total personality, then it is helpful to their development. If the work does not involve their total personality, then it is not helpul to their development. Work which does little to help inner development is considered to have little 'formative' value. With work which is meaningful to the child at the different developmental sensitive periods, the child grows up with an increasing capacity to act independently and responsibly. If children, and adults, behave irresponsibly, the fault lies not with them but with the 'education' which they have been offered. Children naturally strive to achieve their personal aims depending on the possibilities provided to them by their environment. Children strive for self-realization within the context of their environment. With the guidance of the adult, children achieve self-realization through interaction with their immediate environment - becoming one with their environment. Continued development into independent and mature personalities depends on their education - a long and indirect process of preparation for a life of freedom as independent and mature adults. (Mario Montessori Education for Human Development 75)

Montessori referred to the child as a 'spiritual embryo that develops spontaneously'. (Montessori, Mario. Ed. Paula Polk Lillard. Education for Human Development. New York: Schocken Books. 1976. 101) For her, children were fellow human beings. To understand the 'child', one must look at the humanity of children. Trained in the scientific approach from her medical background, Montessori based her theories of human development on direct observation of children. (Maria Montessori, Education and Peace, Chicago: Regnery, 1972) The Montessori teaching method consists of a knowledgeable committment and expression of the three fundamental principles, 'observation', 'individual liberty', and 'preparation of the environment'. "Education is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature." (Maria Montessori The Asorbent Mind 89) Because the emergence of the 'normalized' child is natural and universal, Maria Montessori saw the 'normalization' of the child as a great hope for a fundamental change in society and for the future of humanity. The teacher with the spirit of the scientist, humble, inquiring, and open-minded, "The scientist is not the clever manipulator of instruments, he is the worshipper of nature...the thing we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist...the direction of the preparation should be towards the spirit rather than towards the mechanisms." (Maria Montessori Montessori Method 8-9) can legitimately offer guiding direction for growing children as they emerge into a true 'normalized' nature with the 'normal' qualities which reveal themselves spontaneously when a child is guided by properly trained teachers.

                PRINCIPLES OF  EDUCATION (PEDAGOGY) FOR COMPLETE PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT (based on Montessori's principles) 

 Pedagogy: the art, practice or profession of teaching; esp. systematized learning or instruction concerning principles and methods of teaching.

 "Is there some sense in which principles of pedagogy can be derived from our knowledge of man as a species - from knowledge of his characteristic growth and dependence, of the properties of his nervous system, of his modes of dealing with culture?" (Jerome Bruner, Relevance of Education1971,  page 11

reference: Mario Montessori. Education for Human Development: Understanding Montessori Ed. Paula Polk Lillard 1976. New York NY: Schocken Books, 1967, 1976. 41-43.

1. Education must help the child in its development of personality in accordance with its nature and possibilities, and at its own rate, so that later it can fufill its task as an independent balanced human being in the adult community. The aim, therefore, is always the formation of the total personality, not independent functions or processes.

1. Education must help the individual in the process of personality development in accordance with the principles of human nature defined in terms of human motives for behaviour or 'human needs' for self-preservation - the basic psychological needs for self-esteem (the 'ego needs') and the higher psychological needs for growth and actualisation of human potential or 'self-actualisation' (the growth needs or 'metaneeds') and in an appropriate manner which is in accordance with the individual's stage of development (socio-cognitive stage) so that later they can live as independent and balanced human beings who can contribute to the functioning of civilised communities.  The aim of education should always be the formation of complete human beings ... development of the total personality as a product of the interrelatedness of its many different aspects - physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual, social, moral, political, spiritual ... 

2. Optimal relationships between children and adults and an optimal environment stimulate and give positive support to this spontaneous inner development. When it occurs, a change takes place in the child called 'normalisation'.

3. Children want to become adults and, prompted by their inner needs, strive to achieve this goal independently. Education must assist them in this task of inner development. In order to offer them adequate help, it is necessary to understand their psychic activity from the point of view of this final aim.

4. Many activities of small children appear meaningless. However, the concentration with which they devote themselves to these activities makes it evident that they are important to them. When children are engaged in such activities, the teacher must withdraw and allow them to proceed without interruption. Only then can the child grasp the meaning of a single phenomenon in its correct context. Therefore it is important to respect the self-directed activity of the child. Any attempts to penetrate into the secret of childhood are made through its spontaneous manifestations. Teachers are trained to observe the child and to report on their observations. The behavior of the child is studied in the meaningful context of the whole personality acting in the pedagogical situation.  

5. The school, must be a cultural environment, so that children have the opportunity to become familiar with the basic aspects of their own culture. During the first years of life, the child's absorbent mind enables it to incorporate the fundamental patterns of culture it has come in contact with through association with adults. It then proceeds to give them form and content in a personal way. Schools must offer children this possibility for a cultural environment and enlarge their cultural horizon in such a way that not only intellectual, but also spiritual development occurs. The spiritual core of man is already present in children. It directs their psychic development from within by means of special sensitivities and needs that, if given the opportunity, spur the conscious ego of the child to specific activities.

 6. Educational material is constructed to appeal to these inner needs. In addition, it offers children the opportunity to work independently and to have their own experiences with it. Since handling it demands the coordination of different functions, the entire personality is involved.

7. The educational material takes into account the inner needs of the child in the course of its development. It has emotional appeal and an inviting character. It arouses interest and stimulates activity and concentration. The motto of Montessori education, in the words of a child, is "help me to do it myself." The motto represents the acknowledgement of the child as a being with its own needs and aims - striving for its own self-realization.

8. A prepared environment requires an outward adjustment to others in the group and thus encourages social development and proper social education. The child's need for belongingness in the community requires a balance between freedom for the individual and the needs of the group. The child learns to consider his own needs within the context of the needs of the community.

 9. The Montessori educational methods acknowledge the personality of the child as a psychosomatic entity in the learning process. Learning is a dynamic process involving the engagement of the personality as a whole.

10. Montessori education emphasizes the importance of responsible freedom and thus fosters the development of independence and maturity in cooperative social environments.

  Caine principles

 B. The traditional frames of reference for teaching are being challenged. The following principles and their implications for education constitute the theoretical foundation for new teaching methodologies of brain-based learning.

1. The brain is a 'parallel processor.' It performs many functions simultaneously - those involved with body functioning and health maintenance, thoughts and emotions. Implications: A good pedagogical method based on sound theoretical foundations should be able to orchestrate the various dimensions of the brain as a parallel processor.

2. Learning engages the entire physiology. Like any other organ of the human body, the brain is a complex physiological entity. The learning function of the brain is as natural as the breathing function of the lungs. The functioning of the brain and thus the learning capacity is affected by physiological factors which in turn are affected by nutrition, stress, state of mind, experiences etc. Implication: A pedagogy for brain-based learning should incorporate various topics which deal with physiological factors affecting the learning capacity such as stress management, nutrition, exercise, personal health etc.

3. The search for meaning is innate. "The search for meaning (making sense of our experiences)is survival-oriented and basic to the human brain." (see articles O'Keefe and Nadel 1978, Springer and Deutsch 1985,p.33) The search for meaning can be channeled and focused. It cannot be stopped. Implications: teaching methodology should focus on furnishing a learning environment which provides children with stability, familiarity, novelty, discovery, challenge. "Most of the creative methods used for teaching gifted students should be applied to all students."

4. The search for meaning occurs through 'patterning.' ( see articles of Laskoff 1987, Rosenfeld 1988, Nummela and Rosengren 1986, Hart 1983) The brain has evolved a natural capacity for integrating information for the perception and generation of patterns. It resists the imposition of meaningless patterns (isolated pieces of information that are unrelated to what makes sense to the student). Teaching methodologies of brain-based learning incorporate the recognition of the brain's natural capacity to perceive patterns. Vast amounts of seemingly unrelated information can be presented by teachers and assimilated by students. The brain's natural capacity for perceiving patterns makes it possible for the student to assimilate a vast amount of seemingly unrelated information. Implications: the teachers function is to influence the direction of the learner's natural patterning capacities. "For teaching to be effective, a learner must be able to create meaningful and personally relevant patterns."

5. Emotions are critical to patterning "What we learn is influenced and organized by emotions and mindsets involving expectancy, personal biases and prejudices, selfesteem, and the need for social interaction."EMOTIONS AND COGNITION CANNOT BE SEPARATED." (see Ornstein and Sobel 1987, Lakoff 1987, McGuiness and Pribram 1980, Halgren et al. 1983) Emotions are also involved in facilitating storage and recall of information and so are crucial to memory. (Rosenfeld 1988) The emotinal impact of learning experiences remain for a long time after the experience itself. Implications: Effective learning results from educational evironments which are supportive and respectful of students' feelings, emotions, needs, capacities and potential.

6.The brain processes parts and wholes simultaneously. Every brain simultaneously perceives and creates parts and wholes. There is a physiological basis for this. The brain processes parts:" According to the 'two-brain' doctrine - the left and right brain hemispheres differ. (Springer and Deutsch 1985) At the same time the brain processes wholes. The two brain hemispheres interact. (Hand 1984, Hart 1975) Implications: Effective pedagogical methods account for the brain's capacity for the simultaneous perception of parts and wholes. Teaching and learning strategies account for the fact that the simultaneous perception of parts and wholes is the basis for understanding. The simultaneous perception of parts and wholes is necessary for the understanding of the interrelationships between the component parts of a whole and for the understanding of the parts to the whole. Brain laterality and the interactivity of the two brain hemispheres constitute the physiological basis for the wholistic perspective. Teaching methods which account for the physiological basis of wholistic thinking are brain-based and effective in the learning process. The global presentation of subject matter is is conducive to the global functioning of the brain. Scientific principles are effectively learned if they are taught in the context of living science.

 7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception. "The brain absorbs the information of which it is directly aware and to which it is paying attention. It also directly absorbs information and signals that lie beyond the immediate focus of attention." The brain responds to the entire sensory context in which teaching or communication occurs. (O'Keefe and Nadel 1978) The brain responds to peripheral stimuli such as walls of the rom, hint of a smile, body osture etc. Signals from peripheral stimuli are subconsciously encoded by the brain Implications: Teachers must be genuine- express genuine feelings- the inner states are discerned by lerners or those in others in the communication process. There must be 'congruence' between the internal and the external person. See Lozanov 1978a, 1978b The learning environment should be structured and designed to account for the brain's subconscious registering of peripheral stimuli. An environment for optimal learning will be particularly conducive to learning - in an appropriate 'peripheral context' - with the right surroundings, lighting, noise level - with a view to stimulating students' interest and motivation.

8. Learning always involves both conscious and unconscious processes. Many signals perceived peripherally (peripheral perception) interact with the brain - are processed unconsciously - at the subconscious level. Implications: For effective learning, students must be engaged in 'active processing.' Teaching methodologies should emphasize learning procedures by which students can actively reorganize the material in personally meaningful and valuable ways.

 9. We have at least two types of memory: a spatial memory system and a set of systems for rote learning. The spatial memory system is allows for the instant memory of experiences. It is "motivated by novelty" and is "one of the systems that drives the search for meaning." (Nadel and Wilmer 1980, Nadel et al. 1984, Bransford and Johnson 1972) With continued learning, it is enriched over time as an increased number of items are taken for granted. The set of systems for rote learning is designed for storing relatively unrelated information (O'Keefe and Nadel 1978) The greater the separation of information from prior knowledge and experience, the greater the dependence of the brain on rote learning and repetition. Implications Ignoring the personal world of the learner with overemphasis of facts can interfere with the development of understanding and inhibit the brain's effective functioning. An overemphasis on the rote learning capactity of the brain is an inefficient use of its potential. Efficient use of the brain involves iusage of the spatial memory system. This means that the most effective learning experiences are those connected to real life situations and classroom teaching methodologies which utilise the active prdocessing capacities of the students. Students learn most effectively when they are actively engaged in projects, talks, discussions, field trips, record taking, problem solving etc. Teaching methodologies should emphasize context of information. For example, the suject of geography and the topic of flooding is evffectively learned when presented in the context of the actrual flooding disadsters. Historical and political themes presented in the context of current events. A histsory of Yugoslavia and Europe can be presented in the context of the actual conflict loccurring in Yugoslavia. Presentation of issues in the context of real life situations makes the subject matter meaningful to the student who can make sense of real life situations taking place inthe ccontest of his/her lifetime. This way of presenting information capitalises on the brain's innate capacity to 'make sense' out of real life siutations, a biologically based capacity which has evolved as a means of self-protection and survival of the organism having to maintain itself in a changing environment.

10. We understand and remember best when facts and skills are embedded in natural spatial memory. Specific 'items' acquire meaning when the are presented in the context of real life experiences - when they are embedded in ordinary experiences. The best example to illustrate this principle is the learning of native languages. A child's learning of a language is shaped both by internal processes and by social interaction (Vygotsky, 1978). Through real life experience learning is embedded in the spatial memory. Implications: Teaching methodologies should use 'real life' activities such as demonstrations, projects, field trips, drama etc.

11. Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. Optimal learning takes place with challenge and 'downshifts' under perceived threat. In the extereme form of 'downshifting' the individual feels helpless. The learner feels helpless, becomes less flexible and reverts to more routine behaviours. (Hart 1983) Part of the limbic system, the hippocampus functions partially as a relay center to the rest of the brain. It is the part of the brain which is the most sensitive to stress. Under perceived threat, connections with other parts of the brain appear to be interrupted. Implications: Teachers should understand the functioning of the hippocampus and accordingly create a learning environment of relaxed alertness in which students feel unthreatened but challenged.

12. Each brain is unique. All brains have the same sets of systems for the senses and the emotions. Each brain is unique in that these same sets of systems are integrated differently in each brain. Learning changes the structure of the brain. This adds to the uniqueness since for each individual the set of experiences is different. Implications: Teaching methodologies should allow for students' expression in many forms - verbal, tactile, emotional, intellectual etc. The degree of learning depends on the sense which students make of their experiences. Brain-based learning is an approach from which all education will ultimately benefit

 

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