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Books by Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind

Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind is an analysis of the physical and psychological aspects of a child's growth during the most significant period of life. During this period the child learns motor co-ordination, language, the making of social adjustments, the setting of work habits, and the beginning of routines that set patterns for life. Maria Montessori illustrates the unique mental powers of young children which enable them to construct and establish all the aspects of human personality.

Selected Quotes from The Absorbent Mind

In the psychological realm of relationship between teacher and child, the teacher's part and its techniques are analogous to those of the valet; they are to serve, and to serve well: to serve the spirit.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 256
The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will by using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption. The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 257
Happiness is not the whole aim of education. A man must be independent in his powers and character; able to work and assert his mastery over all that depends on him.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 170
Growth and psychic development are therefore guided by: the absorbent mind, the nebulae and the sensitive periods, with their respective mechanisms. It is these that are hereditary and characteristic of the human species. But the promise they hold can only be fulfilled through the experience of free activity conducted in the environment.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 96
We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 91
The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path. A vital force is active within him, and this guides his efforts towards their goal. It is a force called the ‘horme’.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 83
Learning to speak, therefore, and the power it brings of intelligent converse with others, is a most impressive further step along the path of independence … Learning to walk is especially significant, not only because it is supremely complex, but because it is done in the first year of life.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 86
… the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature. This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do what he likes. But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient to one of her laws, the law which decrees that development comes from environmental experience.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 89
Others, as a result of careful study, have come to the conclusion that the first two years are the most important in the whole span of human life.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 4
All that we ourselves are has been made by the child, by the child we were in the first two years of our lives.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 6
We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 7
All the social and moral habits that shape a man's personality...are formed during infancy, in virtue of that mysterious mental power that psychologists have called "Mneme".
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 59
Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs. He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language.... Very soon afterward, at one year of age, the child begins to walk.... So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn... Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 78
It is after this that the child, who can now walk and feels confident of his strength, begins to notice the actions of those about him, and tries to do the same things. In this period he imitates not because someone has told him to do so, but because of a deep inner need which he feels.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 143
This kind of activity (climbing, carrying etc), which serves no external purpose, gives children the practice they need for co-ordinating their movements. ...all the child does is to obey an inner impulse.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 148
The baby is next endowed with an urge, or need, to face the outside world and to absorb it.... By absorbing what he finds about him, he forms his own personality.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 84
The third period goes from twelve to eighteen, and it is a period of so much change as to remind one of the first. It can again be divided into two subphases: one from twelve to fifteen, and the other from fifteen to eighteen. There are physical changes also during this period, the body reaching its full maturity.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 18
Education, therefore, of little ones is important, especially from three to six years of age, because this is the embryonic period for the formation of character and of society (just as the period from birth to three is that for forming the mind, and the prenatal period that for forming the body).
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 221
During this period the personality undergoes great changes. We have only to compare the newborn babe with the six year old to see this.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 18
...the child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 83
To serve the children is to feel one is serving the spirit of man, a spirit which has to free itself.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 258
In the mysterious period which follows immediately after birth, the child -who is a psychic entity endowed with a specially refined form of sensitiveness - might be regarded as an ego asleep. But all of a sudden he wakes up and hears delicious music; all his fibers begin to vibrate. The baby might think that no other sound had ever reached his ears, but really it was because his soul was not responsive to other sounds. Only human speech had any power to stir him.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 120
To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 204
...the tiny child's absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings. Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in. Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can. The child, as we have seen, passes through successive phases of development and in each of these his surroundings have an important - though different - part to play. In none have they more importance than immediately after birth.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 88
Growth and psychic development are therefore guided by: the absorbent mind, the nebulae and the sensitive periods with their respective mechanisms. It is these that are hereditary and characteristic of the human species. But the promise they hold can only be fulfilled through the experience of free activity conducted on the environment.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 87
It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings. How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have. This is an intense and specialised sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence. The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 22
Not only does he create his language, but he shapes the organs that enable him to frame the words. He has to make the physical basis of every moment, all the elements of our intellect, everything the human being is blessed with.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 22
During this early period, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 4
We then become witnesses to the development of the human soul; the emergence of the New Man, who will no longer be the victim of events but, thanks to his clarity of vision, will become able to direct and to mould the future of mankind.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 8
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 centre. 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.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 15
The next period goes from six to twelve. It is a period of growth unaccompanied by other change. The child is calm and happy. Mentally, he is in a state of health, strength and assured stability.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 18
It may be said that that we acquire knowledge by using our minds; but the child absorbs knowledge directly into his psychic life.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 36
It is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 139
...all the changes in man’s environment are brought about by his hands.
...if men had only used speech to communicate their thought, if their wisdom had been expressed in words alone, no traces would remain of past generations.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 139
...action is connected with sight, for we need to see where we are setting our feet, and when our hands are at work we need to see what they are doing.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 140
So what we call the first level of obedience is that in which the child can obey, but not always. It is a period in which obedience and disobedience seem to be combined.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 237
This is the difference between the old and the new education. We want to help the auto-construction of man at the right time, so that mankind can go forward to something great. Society has built up walls, barriers. These the new education must cast down, revealing the free horizon. The new education is a revolution, but without violence. It is the non-violent revolution. After that, if it triumphs, violent revolution will have become forever impossible.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 196
The teacher's skill in not interfering comes with practice, like everything else, but it never comes easily. It means rising to spiritual heights. True spirituality realises that even to help can be a source of pride.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 274
The infant in arms has far greater mental energies than are usually imagined.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 14
It follows that at the beginning of his life the individual can accomplish wonders - without effort and quite unconsciously.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 54
The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 5
The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 4
The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience ‘work’.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 88
The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 84
The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 132
Development is a series of rebirths.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 17
The child must see for himself what he can do, and it is important to give him not only the means of education but also to supply him with indicators which tell him his mistakes……The child’s interest in doing better, and his own constant checking and testing, are so important to him that his progress is assured.  His very nature tends toward exactitude and the ways of obtaining it appeal to him.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 229
At about a year and a half, the child discovers another fact, and that is that each thing has its own name.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 113
At one year of age the child says his first intentional word...his babbling has a purpose, and this intention is a proof of conscious intelligence...He becomes ever more aware that language refers to his surroundings, and his wish to master it consciously becomes also greater....Subconsciously and unaided, he strains himself to learn, and this effort makes his success all the more astonishing.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 111
In the first days of life, it is clear that something of the utmost importance is taking place....he has 'potentialities' able to bring about his development, and these do so by making use of the outer world.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 72
To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child's work and be able to guide it better.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 135
The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work. She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 270
The child who concentrates is immensely happy.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 249
The first essential for the child's development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behaviour.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 202
Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, where study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants - doing nothing but live and walk about - came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning; would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child's way of learning.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 36
How does he achieve this independence? He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free? By means of constant effort. ...we know that development results from activity. The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 84
An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child's energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 207
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, p. 201
The child has other powers than ours, and the creation he achieves is no small one; it is everything.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 34
Only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 32
The concept of an education centred upon the care of the living being alters all previous ideas. Resting no longer on a curriculum, or a timetable, education must conform to the facts of human life.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 12
During this early period, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers. This means that we cannot use the orthodox methods of teaching, which depends on talk.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 4
If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 4
The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child's whole personality.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 188
To develop a language from nothing needs a different type of mentality. This the child has. His intelligence is not of the same kind as ours.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 23
Inner forces affect his choice, and if someone usurps the function of this guide, the child is prevented from developing either his will or his concentration.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 199
The child has a different relation to his environment from ours... the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 56
He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 25
…the child begins to become conscious of right and wrong, this not only as regards his own actions, but also the actions of others…..moral consciousness is being formed and this leads later to the social sense.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 177
So, from the age of three till six, being able to now to tackle his environment deliberately and consciously, he begins a period of real constructiveness.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 152
There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life. He does it in virtue of an unconscious power that exists in childhood....The first period of the child's life is one of adaptation. It is the child's special adaptability that makes the land into which he is born the only one in which he will ever want to live.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 57
He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so he passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 24
The child is truly a miraculous being, and this should be felt deeply by the educator.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 121
There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 21
How can we be the judge of what will interest the little child? We must put ourselves at his disposal. All past ideas are thus reversed, and the knowledge of this revolution must be spread among adults.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 94
The discovery that the child has a mind able to absorb on its own account produces a revolution in education. We can now understand easily why the first period in human development, in which character is formed, is the most important. At no other age has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 26
The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 7
… the individual thinks more about the success of his group than of his own personal success.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 213
No one can be free if he is not independent, therefore, in order to attain this independence, the active manifestations of personal liberty must be guided from earliest infancy.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 57
The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 257
It follows that the child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience "work".
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 80
The child's conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his "natural development". In other words, if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 76
The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 91
The teacher of children up to six years of age knows that she has helped mankind in an essential part of its formation.... She will be able to say: ‘I have served the spirits of those children, and they have fulfilled their development, and I kept them company in their experiences.’
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 259
She understands and believes that the children must be free to choose their own occupations just as they must never be interrupted in their spontaneous activities. No work may be imposed - no threats, no rewards, no punishments. The teacher must be quiet and passive, waiting patiently and almost withdrawing herself from the scene, so as to efface her own personality and thus allow plenty of room for the child's spirit to expand.
Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 240