Books Header

Books by Maria Montessori

The Formation of Man

Maria Montessori

In the book The Formation of Man Maria Montessori talks about the psychology of the child during the first four years of life, about the formation of the intelligence of a human personality, how is it formed, by means of what processes and in obedience to what laws? She considers the human personality and not a method of education. "Help given in order that the human personality may achieve its independence." She considers the influence of the environment on the formation of the child, the unconscious mechanism of acquiring its culture and language, the building of its character and the role of the adult in the past and future. She discusses world illiteracy in relation to the alphabet and her method of teaching reading and writing.

Selected Quotes from The Formation of Man

Whilst moving the objects used in our sensory exercises, the children's hands are being prepared for all the actions necessary for writing.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 91
In the period of early childhood they are urged by nature itself to co-ordinate the movements of the hands, as is seen in their urge to touch everything, to take everything in their hands and to play with everything. The hand of the child in the "play-age" is led by life itself to lend itself to indirect preparation for writing.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 91
Spoken language is like a breath of air which can reach only the ear which happens to be close to it. That is why [human beings], from remotest antiquity onwards, have looked for means to transmit their thoughts over a great distance and to fix their remembrance.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 79
Possession of the art of writing is not a mere skill, it represents the possession of a superior form of language added to its natural form. Written language complements spoken language and is integrated with it. Spoken language is developed naturally in every man.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 79
Writing is not identical with the alphabet. Writing consists of a series of attempts to transmit thought in a practical and permanent way. Its history goes back to thousands of years ago. At first, man tried to represent the objects of his thoughts by means of drawings; then he tried to symbolise ideas by signs, and only much later has he found a simple solution in the alphabet.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 85
Thus we would use a kind of gymnastics to prepare the mechanisms of the hand. This preparation can be compared, in view of its goal, to the other, intellectual preparation for writing, achieved by means of the movable alphabet. The mind and the hand are prepared separately for the conquest of written language and follow different roads to the same goal.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 92
The exercises with the movable alphabet place the whole language in motion. They provoke a real intellectual activity...These continuous exercises, therefore, by means of which both spoken and written words are built up, do not only prepare the way for writing, but for correct spelling as well.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 90
Our experiment, begun in Rome in 1907 with children between 3 and 6 years of age, was, I believe, the first and only example of an attempt to teach writing by directly connecting the graphic signs of the alphabet with the spoken language without the use of books. The marvellous and unexpected result was that writing came "as an explosion" and began at once with whole words which flowed incessantly from the mind of the child.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 86
Written language can be acquired much more easily by children of four years than by those of six years of age.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 81
To put writing in its real and simple aspects, i.e. to connect it directly with the spoken language, is already in itself a practical step forward and this can be applied to children as well as to adults. Writing thus becomes a form of self-expression and awakens an activity, heightened by the enthusiasm engendered by real interest, evident achievement, and the acquisition of a new power.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 86
The hand too, therefore, needs its own preparation. What is needed before one actually writes is to learn writing by means of a series of interesting exercises which form a kind of gymnastics similar to those used to give agility to the muscles of the body.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 91
Possession of the art of writing is not a mere skill, it represents the possession of a superior form of language added to its natural form. Written language complements spoken language and is integrated with it. Spoken language is developed naturally in every [person]... Language is one the characteristics which distinguish [humans] from the animals. It is a gift of nature bestowed on him alone. It is an expression of his intelligence.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 79
To the young child we give guides to the world and the possibility to explore it through his own free activity; to the older child we must give not the world, but the cosmos and a clear vision of how the cosmic energies act in the creation and maintenance of our globe.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 6
Children are interested in books when they know how to read. This is so obvious that it seems superfluous to say so.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 95
The written language concerns self-expression. It is a very simple mechanism to be introduced into the personality. It can be analysed part by part and precisely this analysis is of the greatest value.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 86
The function of the alphabet has not been taken into consideration in the ordinary method of teaching writing. It is presented only as an analysis of the written language, instead of what in fact it is, the faithful reproduction of the spoken language.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 85
The hand too, therefore, needs its own preparation. What is needed before one actually writes is to learn writing by means of a series of interesting exercises which form a kind of gymnastics similar to those used to give agility to the muscles of the body.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 91
Written language, therefore, must not be considered merely as a subject in schools, and a part of culture. It is, rather, a characteristic of civilised man.
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 80
The absorbent mind is indeed a marvellous gift to humanity! By merely 'living' and without and conscious effort the individual absorbs from the environment even a complex cultural achievement like language. If this essential mental form existed in the adult, how much easier would our studies be!
Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, p. 64