The Secret of Childhood Essay
The Secret of Childhood
What is meant by “the spiritual embryo”? Do you think Montessori believed that nature or environment was more important to the growth and development of children? I think when Montessori wrote about a spiritual embryo she meant that from the early conception of a child through its growth and development; the spirit self begins to open its eyes and grow just as any cell based embryo would grow. I think Montessori saw nature as a fundamental part of who that child is; a human being. But she saw the environment as allowing for independent actuality of the child.
By allowing the child to learn independence through a consist safe environment the child feels safe, trusted and familiar with their surroundings. Through this the child feels capable to learn. Explain the term, “sensitive period” and give an example of a sensitive period at work. According to Montessori in the book The Secret of Childhood a sensitive period refers to, ” a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of evolution. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquistion f a particular trait. Once this trait, or characteristic, has been acquired, the special sensibility disappears”(Montessori p 38). That said I think of the sensitive period as an instinct that each child of every ability is born with. As the child physically develops parts of their “self” are called into action. “Self” encompassing a child’s (mind, spirit and body). I think of it this way because it seems that a child has not yet separated mind from body. They are still a whole “self” while adults have gone through a kind of separation of mind and body.
An example of a sensitive period I have recently been witness to is one of a student who has begun to recognize insects. Apparently he was stung by a bee early in his life and has since ignored the fact that insects exist and that they have a place in our world. (He tended to squish one as soon as he saw it). I was very excited to understand that he is entering into a sensitive period of “entomological awareness”. He is now seeking bugs out, observing them, building habitats for them, and recognizing that they each have a role and place in our world.
What were the “special circumstances” that Montessori describes as having allowed the children of the Casa dei Bambini to develop freely, according to their own nature? What, in essence, are the necessary characteristics of the Montessori approach? One important circumstance was the special material the children were given to work with. Others included a suitable environment and a humble teacher. Essentially the list she wrote on page 138 clarifies necessary characteristics of a Montessori classroom.
These include; repetition of exercise, free choice, control of error, analysis of movements, exercise of silence, good manners in social contacts, order in the environment, care for personal cleanliness, training of the senses, writing separated from reading, writing before reading, reading without books, discipline in free activity (Montessori). These characteristics were observed by Montessori. She credited the children as “furnishing us with practical, positive, and tested norms for constructing an educational system in which their own choices are a guiding principle and their natural vivacity prevents mistakes”.
Describe Montessori’s view of the importance of work in the child’s life. In her view a child’s work allows him to perfect his inner life. “He grows by working and, as a consequence his work increases his energy”(Montessori p197). His work in the environment is one that is based in process not in final product. A child may do things over and over again or take the more difficult route when doing a project. The importance of recognizing this is that the adult allows the child to continue and repeat their work as needed.
The child is working to live there is no reward necessary to assist in this. Why do children and adults come into conflict? How are their needs and points of view different? Montessori first calls for the recognition and acceptance of such conflict into the awareness of the adult. “The adult must find within himself the still unknown error that prevents him from seeing the child as he is. ” In this way one of the first pieces of conflict between children and adults is simply the fact that the adult does not take the time to know and truthfully see the child.
This itself will create conflict. When two people interact with each other and one looks at the other as empty of intelligence; conflict will naturally occur. If this is the baseline for interaction between a child and adult the child is instantly sent into a place of conflict. He/She may react to this externally or internally. Approaching another person with respect and appreciation can allow this potential detrimental conflict to be avoided. In this way people’s needs are all the same; no matter the age.
What do you think Montessori meant by “the secret” of childhood? I think allowing our eyes to fully open and see the children allows adults to recognize the awesomeness of child development. This awesomeness is the “secret”. Another and perhaps more important part of that secret is the teachers role. The teacher can be the mother, father, uncle, aunt, or school teacher but the role of teaching is one that offers a safe consistent environment with materials that meets the child where they are at. This idea of teaching allows for a much simpler life. The secret includes a foundation of trust, respect, love, logic, and understanding toward each individual child.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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