Mathematical Mind

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This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the material, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations. Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori

Discuss the statement and explain how a Montessori directress develops the mathematical mind of young children in the prepared environment.

Everything in our life involves mathematics. Our body is involved with numbers. We have two hands, ten fingers, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two feet, one heart and a lot more. We are conscious with our weight. We always look at the time. We count our age. There was a young girl who would always count the big squares of brick that she had stepped on the ground. She would also read and memorize the plate numbers of the car. Then she will add all the numbers that she saw. She will then compare this sum with the other cars plate number. Whoever had the highest sum of numbers from the car plate numbers will be her winner. She would always do this until she feels the inner reward of mastering addition. She thought she was sick because of her obsession in adding up numbers. Actually she is fond of numbers. She can easily remember telephone numbers rather than people’s names. She then realized that drill and repetition makes her satisfied. This is what this essay is all about. We are going to talk about how to make a child have a mathematical mind especially in a prepared environment. “Repetition is the secret of perfection, and this is why the exercises are connected with the common activities of daily life.” (The Discovery of the Child, Chapter 5, page 92)

Maria Montessori is the founder of Montessori way of education. She believed that a child has a block of time where she is absorbed with one characteristic in the environment. This is also called the child’s sensitive period and to develop a mathematical mind a child has sensitivity to order. From birth to three years old, the child wants routine of feeding time, bed time, playtime and bathing. This routine develops order and sequence to the child and changing it causes confusion and upsets a child. The early tendency in mathematics allows the child to observe the environment. We can also use words big, small, heavy, light, few, many, to teach him to quantify. We use precise and clear language to develop the mathematical mind. "We like to live in an orderly environment because it ministers to a sense of comfort in us, and aids our efficiency." (Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, Chapter 7, page 125)

Before the child is to be exposed to mathematical concept and numbers in the prepared environment, he should first be introduced to practical and sensorial life which will aid for future learning in math. The practical and sensorial life will prepare his fundamental abilities required in higher learning of mathematics through discrimination, knowing the similarities and difference and comparing patterns. Teaching the child to transfer beans between two jugs and letting him do sweeping exercise develops the child’s accuracy and calculation. He is more attracted to order and precision required. The child, through practical life, becomes a member of the peers in the classroom and unknowingly sets the pattern of repetition. “Before beginning mathematics work, the child must therefore do two things: explore and accept the notion of idealized things with isolated qualities; and gain practice in the requisite intellectual skills.” (Basic Montessori Learning Activities for Under-Fives, Chapter 5, Page 160)

Sensorial training is vital for higher order of learning Mathematics. The child should have the concrete experience with his hand of the isolated...
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