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Books by Maria Montessori

Citizen of the World

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori never swerved from one of her main messages: the need for a radical transformation in education to ultimately improve society as a whole. This book offers the reader a selection of essential lectures and articles written during the last 25 years of Montessori’s life; they show the maturity of her ideas on human development, with an acute awareness of society’s shortcomings that thwart the human potential. The articles discuss the implications of her discoveries for moral and social life; her evolved understanding of the four stages of development from birth through early adulthood. And through four lectures delivered at the 8th International Congress in San Remo, Italy, 1949, Montessori bring us her own brilliant summary of a life-time of work. The individual chapters of this book were previously published as stand-alone titles by AMI; by including them in one publication we are able to share Montessori’s intellectual journey.

Selected Quotes from Citizen of the World

At seven years begins a physical and psychological change. The child of seven has a different psychic attitude. Physically nature puts a sign that is obvious. The pearly teeth of the little child fall out, they are replaced by large, strong, deeply rooted teeth; the curly hair becomes straighter and darker; the fat chubby body becomes gawky and thinner.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 36
... the child of seven years must have other kinds of social experiences. We can say that up to seven years the experiences have been in a small house that belonged to him. Now he must go out from it and make greater efforts.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 29
For the ‘valorisation’ of the child’s personality there must be a very definite basis in social experiences.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 29
It is the ‘valorisation’ of the personality, to become aware of ones own value. Without this, as many psychologists say, the child only feels his own value if he is loved. This is another ‘valorisation’ – he is independent, he is sure of his own actions and knows how to act.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 28-29
So we realise that in order to develop the individual needs to display effort, to exercise himself and not be dependent on others. Now this independence is acquired only by an effort. Liberty or freedom is the independence acquired by one’s own effort.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 28
... the child always chooses something hard to do. This is something we would never have thought of.
We can see clearly what is necessary to give in order to help the child. It is to give the possibility of independence, of living together and carrying out social experiences.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 28
We had a little goat [...] I was feeding him and holding the grass always higher, in order to see how high he could stretch before I gave him the grass. Then I saw a little child approach seriously from behind and help support the goat, in order that he might more easily get the grass. It revealed how we adults can be completely unconscious of doing something that is not right. While living with children one continually has these lessons. One does things, without bad intentions, as I was, but the child has a greater fineness of perception in the course of his development.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 28
Perhaps the failure of the secondary school is due to the fact that it uses methods of assimilation that are no longer suited to the development of the child. The child should no longer be restricted to the environment of the school, to the vaster environment in which he learned and understood the how and the why, nor be so close to the family from which he depends financially; he wants ‘to live’ society. He should go farther away.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 40
When the children find themselves in the environment we have prepared, the social contact with other children begins. [...] One might imagine that the children would fight, but no, the children have solved the problem. We can sum this up by saying that the child leaves the others to be active as long as he also can be active. Each respects the work of the other. This shows that the interest of these individuals is to be active.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
Harmonious relation between adult and child does not depend only on their loving each other. Rather, mutual understanding and love depend on whether the child has acquired his independence.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
When the child has acquired this independence his relation to the adult is changed. He is sweeter and calmer. He no longer lives under a repression (the mental suggestion of the adult) therefore he loses any antipathy.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
Whenever possible, the child has a tendency to render himself independent of the help of others, especially of the adult. Then, in acquiring this independence, he seeks for the personal effort. This means that he learns to function by himself. If he cannot acquire this independence he does not exist as an individual – for the characteristic of an individual is one who can function by himself.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
If the different individuals have to live harmoniously in one society, with a common aim there must be a set of rules which we call morality. Therefore, we can consider morality as a form of adaptation to a common life for the achievement of a common aim. Morality, which is usually considered as an abstraction, we wish to consider as a technique which allows us to live together harmoniously.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 26
We must study the correlation between life and its environment. In nature everything correlates. This is the method of nature. Nature is not concerned with the conservation of individual life: it is a harmony, a plan of construction. Everything fits into the plan: winds, rocks, earth, water, plants, man, etc.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 22
Favourable conditions came to be realised. A very rare thing. Indeed, because, though it is often said that parents or teachers should leave the children free, to do it really is another matter.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 16
If a child meets certain difficulties in his work the other children never spontaneously help him.... But if there is an accident when help is really needed, the child will rise and go to help. He will leave all he is doing, no matter how important, in order to help. This is a social relation very different from our own. We adults are always ready to help those who need no help, but if there is someone in real need of help, a help that will require sacrifice from us, we immediately look for a way of escape from giving it.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
Gradually, we came to recognise the child’s love for order and witnessed its surprising memory of the exact position of each object.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 17
Especially then, when the child’s need of activity was not understood, any mother would have said: ‘Now you are clean, that is enough, stop’. But here in the school the children were able to carry out these activities to their full satisfaction.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 16
Nature seems to show that there is a mutual exchange between the different kinds of life and the general environment, meaning that each kind can find what it needs for life and happiness in that environment; but also that life and happiness can only be fulfilled by its particular form of service rendered to the environment. So adaptation means fulfilment of conditions, necessary for life and happiness.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 20
The children behaviour led us to become aware of a fundamental truth, namely that the child works for his own inner development and not to reach an exterior aim and that when he has done this work he has not really developed a special ability but he has developed something in himself.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 16
Another thing which at the time seemed strange was the need for order which developed in the children. They put everything back in its proper place.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 17
I feel that it is a difficult path that we are following, and we must seek out someone who can teach us something more practical. This ‘someone’ who can teach us is the child. The child can reveal to us the origin of society and can show us the way out of this intricate question. Our task is to give help to the child and watch for what he will reveal to us.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 27
It is easy to understand that each animal does unknowingly some work in the environment which is useful to it. This is in contrast to the old idea which was that life in the environment meant to get as much as possible from it; today ideas are very different. Now, it is realized that each animal behaves in a particular way, not only for his own good, but because he works also for the environment. He is an agent who works for the harmonious correlation of all things.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 19
Nature has this beautiful arrangement in which everybody, while striving for his own life and happiness, does something for the improvement and conservation of the environment.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 21
We dealt with the matter of teaching them to comb their hair and to dress themselves. This was indeed an enormous success. Having learned to button their clothes, they unbuttoned them and re-buttoned, repeating the process again and again.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 16
Only those who are adapted to their environment can be said to be really normal. Adaptation is the starting point, the ground we stand on.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 19
Then certain little facts happened which impressed me. For example, the children showed a very great love for cleanliness. They had been taught by us how to wash their hands and they went everywhere looking for opportunities to do so.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 16
Discovery concerns something which, though already in existence, for one reason or another has remained hidden from human consciousness. In this case it was the discovery of the deeper nature of the child, for when the right conditions were established, the result was the spontaneous appearance of characteristics which revealed not a portion but the whole personality. I must affirm once again that they were not the consequence of a determined or a pre-established plan of education.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 12
It is a fact that anyone who lives with children, anyone who knows how to approach them with love, will always learn new things.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 80
I have observed for myself the exuberance, the generosity with which the nature of the child responds to scientific education. This observation left me thoughtful and filled with awe; and I became a faithful follower of the child’s spirit.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 78
The word ‘educate’ has as many meanings as there are ideologies in the world and can be interpreted in many ways. One fact, however, is impressive. All those engaged in education agree that education must begin at birth.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 75
To understand the child as a creative power, to realise that he is psychologically different from us, to perceive that his need is different from ours is a step forward for all human aspirations and prepares a loftier level for social life.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 67
If we wish to make the effort of unifying human society, we must acknowledge the individual and consider the human being as such from birth.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 51
Every human being has developed from a child: the energies that move humanity come from the expansion of the energies latent in children.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 50
The role of the child in humanity, the role that has caused him to be called ‘father of man’ and ‘force which directs the formation of man’ seems to be still generally ignored.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 50
Like a sponge these children absorb. It is marvellous, this mental power of the child. Only we cannot teach directly. It is necessary that the child teach himself, and then the success is great.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 45
We must take man himself, take him with patience and confidence, across all the planes of education. We must put everything before him, the school, culture, religion, the world itself. We must help him to develop within himself that which will make him capable of understanding. It is not merely words, it is a labour of education. This will be a preparation for peace – for peace cannot exist without justice and without men endowed with a strong personality and a strong conscience.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 38
Each plane must be lived through fully in order to pass with mastery to the next.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 35
…in order to keep up with evolving humanity, Education should continue throughout life.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 37
Indeed we have come to the conclusion that the basis of all culture should be given in this period from seven years to adolescence. I mentioned the fact that on this educational plane, giving material was not enough, but material is nonetheless essential.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 33
At each age one must seek for the opportunity for the greatest effort, and the greatest social experience one can reach actively.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 24
[The child] chooses the narrow path that we might consider hard. Yes, this little man has taken the narrow, straight path, the strong way. Thus we see the hardworking child doing difficult work, which seems to us out of proportion to his age.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 23
...whenever possible, the child has a tendency to render himself independent of the help of others, especially of the adult. Then, in acquiring this independence, he seeks for the personal effort. This means that he learns to function by himself. If he cannot acquire this independence he does not exist as an individual – for the characteristic of an individual is one who can function by himself.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 21
Evolution, in the history of life, is a slow process. Education, however, the type of education I am speaking about, will certainly be an element to reach the loftiness destined to humanity.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 14
If to strive to get the means of life and happiness is called “work”, we see that each does not only work for himself, but to maintain balance and order.
Maria Montessori
Citizen of the World, p. 13