Human Needs and Tendencies 5: Background and Definition

Background and Definition
            Dr. Montessori viewed the child as a spiritual being. “We have been mistaken in thinking that the natural education of children should be purely physical; the soul, too, has its nature, which it was intended to perfect in the spiritual life - the dominating power of human existence throughout all time. Our methods take into consideration the spontaneous psychic development of the child, and help us in ways that observation and experience have shown us to be wise.”[1] The purpose of true education is to help full development of each individual’s potential at all levels – to serve as an aid to life itself. “Our goal is not so much the imparting of knowledge as the unveiling and development of spiritual energy.”[2]

            Dr. Montessori was not seeking a method of education when she began her work with children; rather she slowly began to see universal human tendencies, more or less strongly at specific age-ranges. She discovered that “there is – so to speak – in every child a painstaking teacher, so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world.”[3] This internal teacher utilizes universal needs and tendencies within each and every human being, throughout each person’s life, but seen most strongly at particular sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity.

[1] Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method. 1964: Schocken. 374. emphasis mine
[2] Ibid., The Child in the Family.1970. 136.
[3] Ibid., The Absorbent Mind.1995. 6.

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