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The 1946 London Lectures

Maria Montessori

The 1946 London course was the first training course given in Europe by Maria Montessori when she and her son Mario returned from seven years of exile in India during World War II. In these 1946 Lectures, six years before her death, the reader can sense that Montessori has travelled the world and has observed, profoundly and scientifically, an immense amount of children. In these lectures, taken down in English by one of her assistants, Maria Montessori speaks with the mature wisdom of a lifetime spent studying, not just early childhood, but human development as a whole: infancy, the elementary-school years and adolescence. The typescript of this course was to have significant pedagogical consequences, since The 1946 Lectures became the foundation of AMI’s 3-6 courses.

Selected Quotes from The 1946 London Lectures

We must accept adaptation as the basis upon which we can build a concept of education.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 96
Now, somebody of about thirty years of age showed me that the rods can be carried with one hand at each end. Do not do this. Be careful how you handle this apparatus, for you will find that the children, just because they admire you, will imitate your peculiarities. It is a sign of admiration.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 85
From a logical point of view, you should first present the set with the cylinders that vary in three dimensions. However, we do not do so for psychological reasons. If you were to give a child the set that varies in three dimensions, you will find that he can put a cylinder into the wrong cavity and subsequently will be unable to get it out again. This manipulative difficulty leads to tipping the block upside down or hitting it, etc., to remove the cylinder. Such activity would cause the constructive interest to be lost.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 82
By exercising control of error when working with the apparatus, the child’s mind is held by the apparatus. If he replaces the cylinders incorrectly and there is one cylinder left without a cavity he will be inclined to wonder why there is still one cylinder left. Why? Although he does not reason exactly as we would, he realises it subconsciously through his actions.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 82
Whilst all the organs of the body are constructed in the embryonic period, in the period after birth there is another embryonic period. It is during this period that the personality of man is constructed.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 109
The child is the creator of the man, certainly with regard to his adaptation to the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 92
Language is related to the development of intelligence, but moral development is very important too. Intellectual education and moral and social education are the two sides of development. The first is concerned with intellectual development and the second with the individual’s active life in society.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 90
It is therefore best to start by giving him the set where the difference is in two dimensions. As all the cylinders in the set have the same height, the little knob is always easy to hold even if the cylinders were to be misplaced. This will enable the child to correct himself.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 82
In our plan for the education of little children we must create an attractive environment. Into this environment we must put everything that is good for the mind, along with an understanding and affectionate person.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 119
Today there is great interest in the beginning of human life and its relation to the environment. The mysterious and effective potentialities of this age are very interesting, which is why this period has been receiving so much attention.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 109
We must change our treatment of this newborn man. We must pave his passage from one world to another with great care. A new spirit has come into the world and we must help him adapt to his new environment. We must have specialists in the treatment of the newborn.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 110
The real purpose of education is to prepare the orientation for future generations, who will progress to a new plane.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 102
The child in this beginning needs close communication with the maternal body which has a special love for it. Look at mammals. They hide their young away in the first days of their life. They stay with them in the dark. Domestic animals, like cats, hide their kittens away in a dark cupboard, where there is silence and no light. They fiercely resist anyone who attempts to look at their kittens. They will let no one near them for a few days. During the first days, the natural instinct is to defend the young from the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 112
Growing is a succession of acquisitions of independence. At first they are physical acquisitions – teeth, walking, language – each comes at the right time if the child is allowed to live naturally, for nature has assigned a definite order for these acquisitions.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 114
The maternal instinct is a necessary help for the development of movement and to help the child’s body to develop.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 116
If we give children the right environment and this warm care [of the adult], we will see all their naughtiness disappear without any advice or the need to follow any examples.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 119
The man is understood and respected, but not the child. We must respect the child, too. We must handle his body with great care, because he is a potential man.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 111
We, adults, are often not as inclined to help a small child as an older child, perhaps one who is four years old, who is full of love, help, and admiration for the small child. This admiration and approbation help the soul of the small child enormously.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 78
The aim of this apparatus is the same: to aid visual discrimination of size or dimensions. The sets of apparatus are coloured differently and attractively, but the differences between them are the salient part. Long Rods – differ in one dimension. Broad Stair – differs in two dimensions. Pink Tower – differs in three dimensions.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 84
Language is one of the most striking things he absorbs – one of the characteristics of man – but later he absorbs everything. He becomes a living representative of living humanity.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 79
Then leave the child to repeat the exercise twenty or thirty times. I have heard that, in some cases, children may even repeat it two hundred times. It will happen today, next week, or next month. He is only two years old. Give him time.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 83
The teacher should clear the table of everything else before presenting any piece of apparatus. This leads to order and fixes the attention on the activity at hand.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 83
The differences are exactly measured in the cylinders. The difference between the first and the second is similar to that between the second and the third. The diameter of the cylinders is one centimetre, one and a half centimetres, two centimetres, and so forth, so the unit of the measure of gradation is half a centimetre. It is an organised gradation. It is an ordered, methodical, measured gradation.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 82
The beautiful butterfly will not emerge if the caterpillar has not lived his life, hidden himself, eaten, and done all this work, unconscious of what was to be. The butterfly does all this by heredity; it does nothing itself. This is analogous to the child’s hidden life, unconscious of the man that is to be, only the child must construct himself in every detail.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 78
People start educating children when they are capable of understanding: they only educate the conscious mind. They say that children under five are incapable of benefiting from education because they do not understand enough.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 77
But the teacher must insist that the children do not take the apparatus directly from one another. The apparatus must always be replaced by each child who uses it, and then retaken from the cupboard by the next child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 84
To be able to construct a language in oneself requires more than the power of mimicry. Every man has a mother tongue. Of all languages he can only learn his mother tongue well and without mental fatigue, because he acquires this language before he has intelligence. He acquires it in early infancy by mimicry. It is a gift of nature.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 79
When you place the cubes precisely, you will find the hands begin to tremble, especially when placing the very smallest. There is little weight to guide you. It is only your will and your muscular control that helps you.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 86
When there is motor and physical activity, you can see a more important kind of education, a kind of education that takes the force of life into account. This education is not driven by its own wisdom, but by another superior wisdom which lays down the law that, if we do not take the vital force into account, we miss the best part of education.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 77
Every creature has a task; a task not just for its own benefit, but for the benefit of the environment as well. Each species’ adaptation to the environment shows us what the purpose and useful work of each is, the work which each contributes towards universal harmony. Because each animal is adapted to the environment, the environment is kept beautiful.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 93
The child is like a newborn animal, because he cannot behave like the men around him. In the first two years the child’s behavior is like that of the kitten in the first few days. It takes him two years to construct something in his personality. He has the possibility of developing himself in accord with the human species.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 94
A child must go where he can hear people speaking. But he is more fortunate if he has little children speaking around him because they talk incessantly and he will hear a great deal more.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 77
We must, for this reason, take great care in this early period when nothing shows in the external life. If anything is lacking in these first two years the result may be that the child is unable to adapt to the environment, to find the guide which corresponds to heredity in the animals. During this time sensitivity to the social conditions of his group is constructed.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 95
The newborn child can do nothing alone. He has to be carried into the environment. If he is left alone, he cannot develop, but if he is brought into the external environment, he is very interested in everything, and then something happens inside him, something to do with adaptation to the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 94
Learning to recognise identities is an easy and attractive assignment. The identity is shown by the correspondence between the size of the cavities and the cylinders which fit into them. You can recognise the identity of the two extremes most easily. It is easiest to perceive identities between contrasts. Perceiving identities between objects that are nearly alike requires a greater refinement of the eye.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 82
It is not nature alone, but nature and the environment together, that give us the miracle of the little child, the miracle of the little child who speaks.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 76
So we can agree that the isolation of the senses is a great help towards the clarity of reception of the impressions. If we wish to be of help to children, we must help them achieve something which they cannot achieve by themselves, such as the theory of colour, or the three dimensions of the relativity of heat.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 81
The newborn child is impotent, without the power of movement, without intelligence. He must create all this in the mystery of his life; something must happen. We cannot see into this mystery. We can only see the external results – as when the child talks, runs, plays, does things which he could not do before.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 92
There is a vital force in every human being which leads them to make ever greater efforts for the realisation of individual potentialities. Our tendency is to realise them. Joy and interest will come when we can realise the potentialities that are within us.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 89
The child must be born without any language at all so that he can take in the language of his environment. This is the work of the first two years of life – to take in a complete language. Whether a child is born in London, or Peking, or Paris, he must acquire the language that is around him.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 73
The mathematical mind is a mind which is especially interested in mathematics. Instead of finding mathematics idiotic and absurd, it finds them interesting and absorbing. It is a fact that most of the children in our Montessori Schools do achieve great enthusiasm in doing mathematics. It is the preparation of their minds which enables them to derive this pleasure.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 87
It is so helpful to a child when we try to understand his efforts. The child truly suffers when he cannot make himself understood and this suffering has great consequences.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 72
If one sense is isolated, it seems to be enhanced in its power of perception. The possibility of perception is more profound. It is the concentration of the conscious mind upon that sense.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 80
When the child realises that there are different kinds of words, some indicating objects while others have a different meaning, he seems to have an unconscious urge to discover the functions of the other words.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 70
Holding the knob of the cylinders with the first two fingers and thumb is a preparation of the coordination of the hand for writing. At a later age the intelligence of the child will urge him to write. He will be impeded if the organs are not prepared.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 87
Cylinders give an impression of shape. Bodies can differ in three dimensions. If two dimensions are alike in a series of objects, the dimension which is different stands out. It is isolated. The sets of cylinders differ in: one dimension, two dimensions, three dimensions.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 81
Contrasts attract attention. This is why when we present the materials, we start with the extremes. Once the attention is focused and the interest has been aroused by experience, we can help the child through the gradations to arrive at a refinement of observation and intelligence.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 80
The child’s type of mind is an absorbing mind; it absorbs whatever is around it. An adult’s mind elaborates. We call the child’s mind the absorbent mind. It is a mind endowed with special psychic powers, which we lose later, because whatever we adults want to acquire we have to acquire with effort and fatigue.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 65
If we adults had no language, no power to communicate with one another, the world would be a very different place. Every man who is born has this gift from nature, this power to develop language. We all achieve language in the same way.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 73
If the children are free, we can see how they have this great desire, not only to eat and play, but for something elevating. Right from the beginning they have this marvelous wish.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 72
This explosion [of language] occurs all at once. Psychologists have counted one to three hundred new words in a week. The child becomes richer from one moment to the next, having passed that miserable point when he had such difficulty making himself understood. That difficult point was the eve of his triumph.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 73
If we correct a child we must do so very gently. We must be his interpreter; this must be our first act of charity to the human being.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 72
We must speak clearly to the child, give him the right words and repeat them often for him. In this way we can stimulate the explosion into language, which is being prepared.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 71
At the age of one, after this first intentional word, the child reaches another stage of consciousness which is of the greatest importance – he realizes that every object has a name. This leads to the understanding of different kinds of words.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 70
The newborn child shows a sudden, energetic, marvelous development in the first period; after that, his development is less impressive. The greatest development occurs from birth to three years; then from three to six years of age his development is more peaceful. The first period is like a preparation for the second, or conversely, the second period completes the first.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 43
While language is formed from birth to one year, without the conscious will of the child being engaged, from one to two years of age language is developed intentionally by the child who is trying to express himself.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 64
The second period, six to twelve, is a peaceful period of a singular regularity. This age is a time of rest. The child of six is different from the child of twelve. The twelve-year-old has grown during the preceding six years, but there have been no great transformations; it has been a time of peaceful growing. For this reason, the second plane is a period of power and mental strength. It is a time for work and mental application.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 43
If we wish to be the interpreter of the child, we must realise that we are studying an unconscious phenomenon. Before consciousness arrives, there is great activity and work in the unconscious. The child is unconscious but has great ability and power.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 62
By the time a child is three months old, he is already looking with great interest at the mouth of anyone who is speaking. He is interested, because this mouth is doing something which has already struck him as fascinating; unconsciously he is curious to watch this strange organ from which these sounds emanate.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 61
If education is to be based on what we know of little children, we must first understand their development.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 42
These three periods, from birth to six, from six to twelve, and from twelve to eighteen, are clearly distinguishable from one another, in terms of both physical and mental development.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 42
The child is like a genius who is compelled to do a great work; he has to form a language. This is a great thing which he has to construct.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 62
So there are two plans: one is to disseminate knowledge, to follow a syllabus. The other is to look to the life of man and serve it, and in serving it, help humanity.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 31
Every detail of a child’s life has rules, mysterious laws. Every detail is of importance, so we must respect everything, even if it does not seem logical to us. We do not know the consequences; we are not the judges, but the servants of nature.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 52
All over the world children achieve the same things at the same age. They begin to walk at the same time, begin to utter syllables at the same time.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 51
Certainly it is a new task that confronts us, to study and take into account the needs of this absorbent mind. It is to respond to these needs that we say, ‘Education must begin at birth’. We must provide the child’s psychic powers with the nourishment they require.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 67
This first year seems to be dedicated by nature to fixing and reproducing, through the delicate movements of these coordinated fibers, the sounds of a language.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 70
At two years of age, we notice a sudden explosion into words; this explosion comes from the hidden work of the child. There has been a hidden, important, and complex preparation of language before this expression becomes manifest.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 68
When you speak to a baby, instead of looking at you, at your face, or anything attractive that you may be wearing, like a rose or brooch, he will look directly at your mouth. If little children are so thrilled to see a mouth moving, it is because they have already noticed this strange music that is the human voice.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 61
It is a mind endowed with special psychic powers, which we lose later, because whatever we adults want to acquire we have to acquire with effort and fatigue.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 65
Although we call it our mother tongue, it is not the mother who teaches the child a language. If the mother was dead, the child would still learn a language. If the mother took the child to live in a foreign country, the child would acquire the language of that country perfectly, while the mother would not.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 64
In order to educate the child from birth, we must have understanding based on psychological observation.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 57
From birth to six is a time with special characteristics, which are very different from those belonging to the period from six to twelve – so different that we can say the child has two different lives: one finishes at six and another one begins. It is like a second birth.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 44
If you consider this absorbent mind in relation to language, you will understand how necessary it is to put a small child among people who speak well and correctly, and who talk a great deal.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 66
A marvellous fact is that this absorbent mind never feels fatigue. It is just like a camera: it clicks, and everything is there all of a sudden.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 65
The child must be part of the adults’ life and see everything. This is the normal way for a child to grow. We know how intently he looks at everything; how interested he is in watching all that happens.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 57
Imagine how difficult it is to learn one of the classical languages, such as Latin or Sanskrit. What a lot of work it requires – students study Latin for six or seven years and, at the end, cannot speak it. Yet in Roman times every child that played in the streets spoke Latin, using all the correct declensions of the nouns and conjugations of the verbs.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 63
The key is the revelation of the psychology of the young child, the psychology of man in the first phase of his development. An effort must be made to direct this energy into something real, accessible to everybody. When this happens, I believe mankind will have ceased to be a victim of circumstance.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 35
Observe little children, observe them anywhere you can.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 57
Education must begin from birth. It must understand the psychological development of man. It must know of the great psychic energy of man.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 40
This head is not ossified at birth; it is very incomplete, so incomplete that the ossification of the cranium is only complete after six years. This is the proof that the intelligence must be subject to some spectacular growth during these early years.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 54
We call it material for the development of the senses, but sense development is merely the consequence of the urge to do something with the hands. The children also gain the ability to control their movements with precision, and this skill brings them closer to maturity.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
Without language, he [the newborn] learns to speak; without intelligence, he constructs it; he coordinates his movements and learns to walk; he becomes interested in things. Nothing existed. Everything has been constructed by him. In him we are confronted by the mysterious, miraculous fact of creation.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 40
There is an age when children play; we call it the age of play. But what is play if not to do those things which entail the movement of the hands? Children need to touch, to move all the things which they find in the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
The child has infinite possibilities which were not known before. Little children have lived in the world for thousands and thousands of years and no one has ever been aware of them.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 39
Driven by this inner sensibility children absorb language from their environment and miraculously develop it. This sensibility is so great during this period that if they were to be given another means of expressing language, such as writing, this other form of language will interest the child intensely. These children loved to write because they were in the sensitive period for language.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 37
Although people have always witnessed it, they have always taken if for granted; children were only criticized because they talked too much, touched too much, were not obedient enough. They did not see in the child the creator of man. They did not see this power from which every great man developed.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 40
The child is a great worker. The child is important, not because he needs our love, not because he needs our protection, not because he is a poor beggar, but because he is the creator of man. The child is important, for his powers, though mysterious, are intelligible. We must understand the child’s needs in order to be of help to him.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 40
The newborn child is an inert being, but this inert being has this power and we must marvel at it. Our attitude must be to do what we can to nurture the creation of man.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 52
Movement of the hand is essential. Little children revealed that the development of the mind is stimulated by the movement of the hands. The hand is the instrument of the intelligence. The child needs to manipulate objects and to gain experience by touching and handling.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
Writing does not come naturally, whereas spoken language does, and children have a need to develop their language. So the central interest came from the inner life of the child and that is why this phenomenon was so extraordinary. It showed that the development of spoken language is correlated with an inner sensibility which persists during a certain period of life which we call the sensitive period.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 37
The only thing the absorbent mind needs is the life of the individual; give him life and an environment and he will absorb all that is in it. But, of course, if you keep a camera in a drawer you will never get any pictures. It is necessary for this absorbent mind to go out into the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 65
No matter what difficulties there are, the child acquires the language he was born into well. He does this without a teacher; no teacher will ever tell an English child that the adjective must precede the noun or an Italian child that the adjective must come after the noun. Yet, they both understand the correct construction.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 63
Let us keep before us this image of the child who absorbs everything in the environment, and who, in his mysterious subconscious, fixes it in his personality. One day the child gives expression to what has been fixed in his subconscious, just as a photographer, coming out of his darkroom, will show you the proof of the photograph which was taken.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 65
If we study the psychology of children aged between three and six, we see that movement, and especially the movement of the hand, plays a most important part in mental development of children in this age group.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
The child is a worker and a diligent observer. He looks straight at things; he stares at them for a long time; he is interested in learning all he can about his environment. Perhaps he is staring at a flower, absorbing its image. This work gives him happiness and peace because, in doing so, he is following his natural urges.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 56
When we learn a language as children, we learn it with ease and exactness. The only language we possess perfectly is the one we call our mother tongue and which we acquired as children.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 64
The child has the capacity to educate himself, not in typical schools with their exact syllabuses where children must be obedient, but at a school where he is not controlled, does not have to compete, but can work with enthusiasm according to natural laws. If we do not know these laws and respect them, then we are in danger of spoiling this great work of the child’s.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 52
Today children are given toys; that at least is something. Even if they are not fundamentally the right things, at least they fulfil the need for manipulation. However, when I gave the children this scientific material, they preferred it to toys because it responds to an urge in their nature; it enables them to develop.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
The art of education must become a service to these powers inherent in all children. It must be a help to life.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 38
In nature, man takes the child into his arms because a child needs to be held. The child must not be left in a cot all the time, because it is a natural law that a mother should take the child into her arms. It goes further. It is a preparation for the personality that is being shaped for the future.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 53
We must dig down to the deepest mystery of human life; we must reach the nucleus from which all is formed, the apparent non-existent psyche of the newborn child. He has the power to develop everything which is in man. He creates a being who can orientate himself in the environment.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 40
We must study the psychology of each different period of life. In doing this we cannot give an idea of linear progression. There are different periods when energies and possibilities are different and it is only in some of these periods, when the individual is very young, that it is possible to acquire certain characteristics. The formation of a person’s psychological characteristics takes place in the very early periods.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 39
The impressive revelation was the fact that small children can do a greater quantity of work with greater perfection than older ones. And the younger children derive great happiness from it.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 37
This is our responsibility, not to spoil the great laws of nature and the effort which is in each child. The teacher must be the servant of nature. The highest thing she can do is to serve. The best she can do is to be a perfect servant, to show respect and care, and be humble. Her plan must be to nurture life, which is a force, a force full of wisdom and power.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 52
I found that they [little children] used the material with great attention and for a long time; they showed interest, a spontaneous interest. But why were they so interested? Why did they work with this material for such long periods? Evidently it was because they needed to develop something fundamental.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 36
This great interest in writing came from the ideas that children wanted to express. If they had had no ideas, they would not have written. This explosion into writing came suddenly. We could even give the exact time when each child started to write. We could say, ‘This little child began to write yesterday at three o’clock.’
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 37
These sensitive periods are of great importance and education must facilitate this opportunity which is inherent in the child. Education must prepare an environment that will aid the development of life.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 38
In studying the Montessori Method we go straight to a very interesting central point: the extraordinary manifestation of the psychic life of the young child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 34
When I say that we must take the child as our teacher you will probably object, saying we must educate the child and give him all sorts of information, that he must learn the subjects we think important. Do not have these prejudices. When his energies are freed, the child will be better able to learn than before.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 33
This child who stands before us with his marvellous hidden energies must lead our efforts. When we say that the child is our teacher, we mean that we must take his revelations as our guide. Our starting point must be the revelation of the characteristics of the human individual.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 33
We must proceed, not on the basis of our own ideas or on our own prejudices, not on preconceived methods, but by observing the child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 33
Although this method bears my name, it is not the result of the efforts of a great thinker who has developed his own ideas. My method is founded on the child himself. Our study has its origins in the child. The method has been achieved by following the child and his psychology.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 29
There are different periods in life when we can acquire different abilities. Little children can do things that older ones are no longer capable of. Children from birth to six years have a power that we no longer have, for they are at the age of creation.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 32
In the first years of life we have great potential and powers, which are not given the opportunity to develop and are therefore lost. A boy of fourteen, for example, finds it difficult to memorise words, but a boy of five can memorise them easily and with pleasure.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 32
For the first time we realized that the young child has powers which are lost as it grows older. It is a matter of the evolution of each life individually.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 32
This was the first time that we had evidence that the intelligence of man does not progress forward, becoming ever greater. At the different ages there are different mentalities. There is a form of mind in younger children that is different from that of older children.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 32
Everyone said it was my marvelous method which gave this ability to children, and everyone was enthusiastic about it. However, it was neither the school nor the method which produced this phenomenon. It was the expression of the power of the small child and it was a revelation of something that had hitherto remained unknown. The important thing was the discovery of the surprising power of the young child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 32
The purpose of education must be to elevate the individual; otherwise education would be of no use. This must be the goal of education. We must wish to love humanity, instead of merely wanting to apply a preconceived plan.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 31
A soundly objective method is based on observation, the observation of facts, which is why the Montessori Method is entirely different from all the other methods, which came from certain people who arrived at certain theories.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 29
We must study the profound and mysterious psychology of the little child, observe its development, and find what we can do to help.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 33
Before we can give help, we must understand; we must follow the path from childhood to adulthood. If we can understand, we can help and this help must be the plan of our education: to help man to develop not his defects, but his greatness.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
Education is the help we must give to life so that it may develop in the greatness of its powers. To help those great forces which bring the child, inert at birth, to the greatness of the adult being, this should be the plan of education – to see what help we can give.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
Our aim is to study the child from this new point of view. With this change in our hearts we will want to study him in all his different phases, to study all his miracles, to realise how man reaches the stage of man through the child that constructs him.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
How much fuller and richer life would be if we saw the child in all his greatness, all his beauty, instead of focusing on all his little mistakes?
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
When we see the miracle of a child walking, we take no notice because it is a daily occurrence. And yet we correct all his small peccadilloes.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
Look around at all we have small, great or beautiful – whatever it is; it has been created by man. But while asking for more and more of these marvellous inventions, we never think of the man that created them. We do not consider him at all.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
We only have to look at civilisation to realise the greatness of which man is capable. But we are focused on his errors and mistakes, not on his greatness. The fault lies with us.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 28
We need to change our attitude and see the greatness of the child’s achievements rather than the small and dry leaves of his errors (errors we have caused).
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 27
It is from a state of utter unconsciousness that the child becomes a man with all his ideas and all his abilities. And because this is the origin of everything, it is here that we must seek understanding, seek inspiration and hope.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 27
If we wish to understand man, we must first understand how man has been built. If there is one time in life when all men have the same ideas, when they speak the same language, it is the time of birth. No matter to what race they belong, in which part of the world they are born, newborns are all alike. If we wish to achieve peace and mutual understanding, we must start at the moment of birth, the moment when all men are alike.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 27
If we touch children, we touch humanity. We must educate adults to realize that we can only better humanity through the child. We must realize that the child is the builder of the man.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 26
It is clear that the foundations of man are laid down during this period. When a baby is born, it is not a man that is born. Yet it is the origins of man.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 26
I think the mistake is that we limit our definition of man only to adults. In the eyes of society it is only the adult who is considered a man and a citizen. But is it only the adult who is a man? And a citizen?
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 25
When social groups fight, when wars are won, people speak of rights – the rights of men, better conditions, a better life – but it is a better life for the adult they speak of, not a better life for the child. No thought was ever given to the child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 25
Have you ever heard anyone say – in any part of the world – that the child must benefit from this democracy, from this justice? Civilisation is made for the adult.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 25
It will be necessary to look to children for help if the world is to be made better.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 24
In these times, more than ever before, our hope is that education will offer an aid to better the condition of the world.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 24
The adult, the child, and the environment are a trinity. They should be considered as one.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 213
I will not extinguish any fire, any greatness, any enthusiasm. On the contrary, I wish to illuminate the whole of instruction so that every little particle of knowledge is received with understanding and enthusiasm.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 191
So in order to achieve the marvel of humanity, you must look at the mysterious construction of the child.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 67
It is extremely difficult to reform an adult; childhood is the time for reformation and, for this reason, it is so important. Man is formed at this age and... can be helped at this time. This is the great importance of this age: the character of the adult is formed at this time.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 141
So we must have interest first and then work with an intelligent purpose, work which is freely chosen by the individual.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 162
The children must be attached to the material; if they are attached to the teacher they cannot be independent.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 231
When we speak about great social questions and the reform of humanity, we must remember this reality: this [age of about two to three years] is the period of life during which the reform of humanity is in our hands.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 141
If we are to walk, we must have ground to walk on; after we have learnt to walk, we may learn to jump, dance, etc., but we will still need the ground. Walking is a relation between the individual and the environment. Adaptation must come first. Only after this first adaptation has been made can there be the possibility of flexibility and a variety of creative responses.
Maria Montessori
The 1946 London Lectures, p. 129