‘The transition from one stage to another always follows a piece of work done by the hands with real things, work accompanied by mental concentration.’ (Montessori, 2007a, pg.186) This is what Montessori termed ‘normalisation’.
Montessori (2007a) said that the life of an individual from 0 to 18 years may be divided into three periods – 0-6 years, 6 – 12 years and 12-18 years old. The first period 0-6 years old is the most important part of life which is one of creativeness. It is important to note that from birth to three years adults cannot directly influence the mind of a child hence it must be nature that lays the foundations. A child in this first period mentioned above does not know right from wrong as he is unaware of adults and society’s principles. In the second period of 6-12 years the child begins to become conscious of right and wrong of his actions. Moral consciousness is being formed and this leads later to social sense. The third period from 12-18 years is that of patriotism when social awareness is apparent. Although each period is different each lays the foundation for the one following and the success of each foundation positively influences the subsequent. ‘We serve the future by protecting the present.’(Montessori, 2007a, pg 177) The most critical years of life are those from birth to three years, as a child’s personality is developed however if obstacles are encountered the child’s personality deviates. Montessori (2007a) believed that a model individual is one who at three has not encountered any deviations. Her prognosis of a child between 0-3 years with deviations was curable during the period of 3-6 years as this is when nature is still perfecting many newly formed powers. However if the defects in this period are not corrected they remain and get worse and have an influence on the second main period when as mentioned above begins the awareness of right and wrong.
Montessori (2007a) further classified deviations into two groups, - those shown by strong character and those shown by weak character. The strong type resists and overcome obstacles. They display tendencies of violence, insubordination, rage, disobedience, are noisy and display sudden mood changes. The weak child may not be noticed due to being quiet, not showing any initiative for anything, and being clingy to their parents who often mistake this as sign of affection. These problems can be solved if we understand the cycle of constructive activities which every child should naturally pass through. The neglect of children at this age was the cause of an empty mind and the lack of unplanned activity. However the defects disappeared when children where placed in an environment where they could experience their surroundings, whereby they had the freedom to chose there own activities, freedom to repeat the activities as many times as he/she wishes and finally the freedom to move around and choose where to sit or where to work. The child of this age not only needs something interesting to do but is found to be captivated by a task which was freely chosen and he/she had no interruptions. He then repeats the same movements continuously completely absorbed by the task, due to an instinct to coordinate his movements and acquire better coordination. The repetition of the task brings about a profound mental connection which leads to a concentration of the activity. This display of concentration brings about normalisation.
The environment as mentioned above played a vital role in normalisation hence the immense preparation of such. It had to be suited to the child’s needs, providing freedom for the child to express. Evidently due to the physical needs of the child, the tables and chairs were made proportionate to their size. They were light weight which further encouraged freedom of movement. The main room had low cupboards with activities. There was also a wash basin, dressing room with a shelf, sitting room with appropriately sized...
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