The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori

Book report on The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori (1966 version)

Learning how to enjoy learning by asking questions, and liking what you do; not just doing what you want or are told to do.

Content Summary

Childhood: A Social Problem

Era of the Child; Psycho-analysis secret

Newborn Child – Alien Environment, Natural Instincts, Spirit Incarnation

Psychic Development – sensitive periods, observations

Order – Inner / Outer

Intelligence, Growth, Sleep, Walking, Rhythm, Movement, Comprehension, Love

Montessori Method Origins

Normalization

Deviation – pampering, fugues, barriers, cures, attachment, possessive, power, fear, truth

Conflict – adult vs child

Instinct to Work

Guiding, Teaching, Rights, Mission

Conventional ‘direct teaching’ impedes child learning, based on the erroneous assumption that teaching molds young minds. The will-power of the child to create their own skills (walking, talking, eating, etc), is how children learn. Children have the power to change their own behavior, and are more successful when it is self motivated. The key is to determine where teaching and self-motivation meet in each case.

Children will notice with frustration, that they are considered unreliable and weak compared to less fragile adults. This dissociative relationship between the helpless child and their environment causes children to think of themselves as hopelessly inferior, and combined with social competition makes them desperate for attention and constant continuing dissatisfaction as they grow. In many ways this conditions people to be fighters and survivalists, which are certainly strong roles; and is naturally similar to resistant forces that cause a tree to grow denser and shorter if there are high winds, or thin and tall with little wind. However there is a problem with children viewing themselves as less valuable than the objects they are forbidden to touch, as without self worth, they have nothing to lose by hurting themselves or others.

If a child is to develop their own interior life, they must be allowed to touch things, and work rationally; as this can help them early on to develop considerate habits of acting. They must develop ethics by their own free-will, although we can guide them. Establishing sustainable successions of working actions, based on rational play, is successful education.

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