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Books by Maria Montessori

The Discovery of the Child

Maria Montessori

In The Discovery of the Child Maria Montessori describes the nature of the child and her method. She believes that once the general principles of her method have been grasped, the parts dealing with its material application are extremely simple. Gone are teachers who wear out their lungs maintaining discipline, the verbal instruction has been replaced by 'material for development', which affords children the opportunity of teaching themselves by their own efforts. The teacher thus becomes a director of the children's own spontaneous work.

Selected Quotes from The Discovery of the Child

The work of education is divided between the teacher and the environment.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 152
When we think about mixed ages, we must make sure we aren't starving children intellectually or physically ... we should not have a supermarket, but just what is essential.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 152
A necessary condition for writing is to have what is called a "firm hand," that is, a hand under the control of the will.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 206
A refined and perfect child is capable of entering upon any path that helps him to advance.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 93
The objects in our system are instead a help to the child himself, he chooses what he wants for his own use, and works with it according to his own needs, tendencies and special interests. In this way, the objects become a means of growth.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 150
Psychological studies have shown that it is necessary to isolate the senses as far as possible if some single quality is to be brought out.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 104
A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 92
The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 87
A system of education that is based on liberty ought to aim at assisting a child in obtaining it, and should have as its specific aim the freeing of the child from those ties which limit its spontaneous manifestations. Little by little, as a child proceeds along this way, he will freely manifest himself with greater clarity and truth and thus reveal his own proper nature.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 57
That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendour during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open himself to life.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 52
We must not therefore start from any fixed ideas about child psychology but with a programme that will give a child his freedom so that we can deduce a truly scientific child psychology by observing his spontaneous reactions. It may well be that such a programme holds great surprises in store for us.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 22
If a system of education is to rise from a study of the individual student, it will have to come about in this way, that is, from the observations of free children who are watched and studied but not repressed.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 21
Truly there is an urgent need today of reforming the methods of instruction and education, and he who aims at such a renewal in struggling for the regeneration of mankind.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 20
It is imperative that a school allow a child's activities to freely develop.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 11
Before a child reaches the age of three, the highest form of work and the most ennobling that engages him is that of arranging furniture and putting things in order, and it is also the one that calls for the greatest activity.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 85
By a habit of work a child learns how to move his muscles more than he does through ordinary gymnastic exercises.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 83
I therefore began by having school equipment made proportionate to the size of the children that satisfied the need they had of moving about intelligently.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 48
It seemed important to us that the children should be able count up to one hundred and to carry out the exercises connected with this operation, which unites a rational study of the primary numbers with simple reckoning, especially since a rational approach to arithmetic was given rather than a system based on rote memory.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 276
An analysis and economy of movement are bound together: to carry out no superfluous movements in the attainment of a goal is, in brief, the highest degree of perfection. This is the source of aesthetic movements and artistic attitudes.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 89
The importance of the work does not bother children, they are satisfied when they have done as much as they can and see that they are not excluded from an opportunity to exert themselves in their surroundings. The most admired work is that which offers the greatest opportunities to each one.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 86
Children indeed love flowers, but they need to do something more than remain among them and contemplate their coloured blossoms. They find their greatest pleasure in acting, in knowing, in exploring, even apart from the attraction of external beauty.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 74
The strength of even the smallest children is more than we imagine, but it must have a free play in order to reveal itself.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 68
The freeing of a child consists in removing as far as possible these obstacles through a close and thorough study of the secret needs of early childhood in order to assist it.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 64
Every child reveals himself, and it is remarkable how clearly individual differences stand out if we follow this procedure.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 57
A teacher is destined by his own special work to observe not simply insects or protozoa but man. And the man he is destined to observe is not one busy about his daily occupations, like those of insects when they wake up in the morning, but man when his intellectual life is awakening.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 9
One of the most important practical aspects of our method has been to make the training of the muscles enter into the very life of the children so that it is intimately connected with their daily activities. Education in movement is thus fully incorporated into the education of the child's personality.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 81
...an individual is disciplined when he is the master of himself and when he can, as a consequence, control himself when he must follow a rule of life.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 51
There is only one basis for observation: the children must be free to express themselves and thus reveal those needs and attitudes which would otherwise remain hidden or repressed in an environment that did not permit them to act spontaneously.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 48
The object of a science of education should be not only to “observe” but also to “transform” children.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 32
...the principle that a teacher must have special training that is not simply intellectual but which also touches the heart... is only a first, if essential, step in the process of awakening the soul of the child. A child's own activities must then find the means that lead to its own development.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 32
He will learn from the child himself the ways and means to his own education, that is he will learn from the child how to perfect himself as a teacher.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 10
We must create in the soul of the teacher a general interest in the manifestation of natural phenomena until he comes to the point where he loves and experiences the anxiety of one who has prepared an experiment and is waiting for new data to appear.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 7
We may define a scientist as one who during the course of an experiment has perceived something that leads to a further investigation of the profound truths of life and has lifted the veil which hid its fascinating secrets, and who, in the pursuit of this knowledge, has felt so passionate a love for the mysteries of nature that he forgets himself.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 6
Physiologically we may say that their muscles and nerves are passing through a period where they are learning how to work harmoniously together. Successful passage through this period is of utmost importance for an individual's ultimate perfection.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 87
When children experience pleasure not only from an activity leading towards a special goal but also in carrying it out exactly in all its details, they open up a whole new area of education for themselves. In other words, preference should be given to an education of movement: practical activities are simply an external incentive to the educational process, they provide a motive and urge the child to organise his movements.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 87
If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 58
It is through his muscles that a man can act on the external world and give expression to his thoughts.... The will carries out its desires through these marvellous instruments of motion. The mind must have all these means of expression by means of which its concepts are changed into action and its feelings are carried out in works.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 79
No one can be free unless he is independent. Therefore, the first active manifestations of the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 118
A man is not what he is because of the teachers he has had, but because of what he has done.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 155
We habitually serve children; and this is not only an act of servility toward them, but it is dangerous, since it tends to suffocate their useful, spontaneous activity.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 59
The liberty of the child should have as its limit the collective interest.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 86
The lesson must be presented in such a way that the personality of the teacher shall disappear. There shall remain in evidence only the object to which she wishes to call the attention of the child.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 109
But if for the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also necessary for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 145
The history of the movement shows that the same kind of education, though with some adaptations, is applicable to all grades of society and to all nations of the world, and it may be used with children from happy homes as well as those who have been terrified by an earthquake or similar disaster. In our day the child has been revealed as the driving force that can bring new hope to people engulfed in darkness.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 42
The educator must be as one inspired by a deep worship of life, and must, through this reverence, respect, while he observes with human interest, the development of the child life....There exists only one real biological manifestation: the living individual; and toward single individuals, one by one observed, education must direct itself.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 104
He has also acquired in a natural way many practical skills. His body is attuned to musical rhythms, and he is ready for gymnastic exercises. Music is no longer a simple stimulus to his efforts, but it becomes an inner guide of his movements, which have become obedient to its rhythms.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 93
Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and therefore the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the morrow, so much as this.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 73
The concept of liberty which should inspire teaching is, on the other hand, universal: it is the liberation of a life repressed by an infinite number of obstacles which oppose harmonious development, both physical and spiritual.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 11
We, who work for a single goal, are as it were, the members of the same person. Those who come after us will attain further goals, because there were those who believed and worked before them!
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 5
No one who has ever done anything really great or successful has ever done it simply because he was attracted by what we call a “reward” or by fear of what we call a “punishment”.... Every victory and every advance in human progress comes from an inner compulsion.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. 17
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.
Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, p. x