Describe what Montessori meant by ‘New Education’.
As we know of our world today, there has been lots of development in technology and in its economy, progressed. However, despite all these good progresses, man still do not seem to be able to live in harmony, both with himself and the world around him. There have been two World Wars, which have been disastrous and still a lot of cruelty, warfare and poverty prevailing in the world. Man is still facing conflict and sufferings in the modern world. When will all these difficult times come to an end? Maria Montessori, a dynamic lady, began to realise that a reformation had to take place in order for the world to develop into a more peaceful and harmonious place to live in, with its society civilised and matured to their fullest potential. It further dawned on her that should there be a change, it should be in the education system as the traditional system is still unable to find a solution to man’s problems. This is required for the regeneration of mankind. Thus, Maria Montessori has been emphasising the need for the world to change their focus and start concentrating on the children, allow them to develop freely and understanding their need for mental growth since “childhood constitutes the most important element in an adults’ life, for it is in his early years that a man is made.” (The Secret of Childhood, Introduction, p.4) It is through the education of our children that a new generation of fulfilled and well-balanced adults would be born to lead the world towards peace and harmony. It is with this understanding that gave birth to the new education system which proves to be effective around the world today.
Maria Montessori had found that the earliest years of a child proved to be his most important years. The child has actually begun his learning process from birth itself. In the first three years of a child’s life, there seem to already be a painstaking teacher at work. This is to be the child’s inner guide of nature. Adults always mistake a child in these years to be incapable and just a baby that needs to be fed and put to sleep. However, the child has “a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself.” (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 1, p.5) For example, it is a marvel that a child is able to learn his parents’ tongue, and yet it is a great intellectual feat for an adult to pick up a language. Therefore, it is necessary that the adult realise that they need to adapt to a more passive attitude in order to aid in the child’s development as he is ever learning. Initially, the child will begin his mental growth at birth and pursue it with a greater intensity to eventually build his mind. Thus, the “reform of education must be based on the personality of Man.” (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 1, p.8)
We then witness the development of the New Man, able to direct and lead the future of mankind.
Maria Montessori has found that people form their various personalities through their experiences when interacting with their different environments. It is the sensitivity to absorb and learn. This is even more apparent in the early years of a child who is most receptive to his surroundings. The natural development of a child proceeds through several different distinct planes of development, each very unique in its own way and its sensitive periods in acquiring life’s lessons. “A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires to its infantile state.... It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait.” (The Secret of Childhood, Chapter 7, p.38) Basically, meaning to say that in a particular sensitive period, a child may be probed by his own will to learn a particular skill, and he will do so till he has perfected the skill. Once perfected, the child will naturally drop the activity and proceed on to something else. With the traditional education system, a child is always forced to a...
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