Montessori at MVM Thursday 5/26/16

Deepening Our Collective Understanding

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Dear MVM Families,

The focus of this newsletter is on Maria Montessori's texts, speeches, books, and works. Montessori was a prolific writer and speaker. Many of the books that are published today are collections of speeches she gave around the world.

Below are many of the books Maria Montessori has authored or contributed to. The best place to learn more about Montessori is by reading her own words--nothing beats the original!

In some cases, we were able to locate free ebooks and have included the link to these texts.

Montessori has over two dozen texts and speeches that have been published and are worth reading...and reading again.


The Discovery of the Child

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"Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation."

The Absorbent Mind

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"This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single center. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.”

Pedagogical Anthropology

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The Secret of Childhood

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"Among the revelations the child has brought us, there is one of fundamental importance, the phenomenon of normalization through work. Thousands and thousands of experiences among children of every race enable us to state that this phenomenon is the most certain datum verified in psychology or education. It is certain that the child's attitude towards work represents a vital instinct; for without work his personality cannot organize itself and deviates from the normal lines of its construction.

Man builds himself through working. Nothing can take the place of work, neither physical well-being nor affection, and, on the other hand, deviations cannot be corrected by either punishment or example. Man builds himself through working, working with his hands, but using his hands as the instruments of his ego, the organ of his individual mind and will, which shapes its own existence face to face with its environment. The child's instinct confirms the fact that work is an inherent tendency in human nature; it is the characteristic instinct of the human race."

Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook

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“As a rule, however, we do not respect our children. We try to force them to follow us without regard to their special needs. We are overbearing with them, and above all, rude; and then we expect them to be submissive and well-behaved, knowing all the time how strong is their instinct of imitation and how touching their faith in and admiration of us.”

From Childhood to Adolscence

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“Education should not limit itself to seeking new methods for a mostly arid transmission of knowledge: its aim must be to give the necessary aid to human development.... If ‘the formation of man’ becomes the basis of education, then the coordination of all schools from infancy to maturity, from nursery to university, arises as a first necessity: for man is a unity, an individuality that passes through interdependent phases of development. Each preceding phase prepares the one that follows, forms its base, nurtures the energies that urge towards the succeeding period of life.”

Education and Peace

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“Directing our action toward mankind means, first and foremost, doing so with regard to the child. The child, that ‘forgotten citizen’, must be appreciated in accordance with his true value. His rights as a human being who shapes all of mankind must become sacred, and the secret laws of his normal psychic development must light the way for civilization.”

Spontaneous Activity in Education

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"...When we see little children acting thus, intent on their work, slow in executing it, because of the immaturity of their structure, just as they walk slowly because their legs are still short, we feel intuitively that life is being elaborated within them, as a chrysalis slowly elaborates the butterfly within the cocoon. To impede their activity would be to do violence to their lives.

But what is the usual method with young children? We all interrupt them without compunction or consideration, in the manner of masters to slaves who have no human rights. To show "consideration" to young children as to adults would even seem ridiculous to many persons.

And yet with what severity do we enjoin children "not to interrupt" us! If the little one is doing something, eating by himself, for instance, some adult comes and feeds him; if he is trying to fasten an overall, some adult hastens to dress him; every one substitutes an alien action to his, brutally, without the smallest consideration. And yet we ourselves are very sensitive as to our rights in our own work; it offends us if any one attempts to supplant us..."

Montessori Elementary Material

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The Advanced Montessori Method

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"The vision of the teacher should be at once precise like that of the scientist, and spiritual like that of the saint. The preparation for science and the preparation for sanctity should form a new soul, for the attitude of the teacher should be at once positive, scientific and spiritual.

Positive and scientific, because she has an exact task to perform, and it is necessary that she should put herself into immediate relation with the truth by means of rigorous observation...

Spiritual, because it is to man that his powers of observation are to be applied, and because the characteristics of the creature who is to be his particular subject of observation are spiritual."