Secrets of Childhood

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The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori Maria Montessori passionately reveals to us the inner workings of children as they develop into their full potential in an effort to assist adults in understanding and supporting this process. The ideas and methods shared have become the foundation for the Montessori model of education. In the introduction, Maria Montessori asserts “there is no real place for children” in today’s modern society where parents are working, cities are crowded and deemed dangerous, and the home is often filled with furnishings off limits to children. We are asked to consider where children feel they belong and are understood. Though Maria believed that great progress was underway when writing this book, with an increased sensitivity and better healthcare for children, she also believed there was so much more potential, and that it was critical to recognize the need for social reform in regards to children, not just for the sake of children, but for humanity as a whole. Chapter 2: The Accused Maria Montessori implores us to stand accused for the sake of our children. “With a spirit of

sacrifice and enthusiasm we must go in search like those who travel to foreign lands and tear up mountains in their search for hidden gold. This is what the adult must do who seeks the unknown factor that lies hidden in the depths of the child’s soul. This is a labor in which all must share.... since it means the bringing forth of an indispensable element for the moral progress of mankind.”

Dr. Montessori claims that our perspective is egocentric, in which adults look upon a child “as

something empty that is to be filled through the adult’s own efforts, as something inert and helpless for which they (the adult) must do everything, as something lacking an inner guide and in constant need of direction.” Dr. Montessori concludes this false perspective with this warning: “An adult who acts in this way, even though he may be convinced that he is filled with zeal, love and a spirit of sacrifice on behalf of his child, unconsciously suppresses the development of the child’s own personality.”

Chapter 3: Biological Interlude I love this chapter - it gives us a sneak peek of how a newborn grows into the form and function of an amazing human being. It’s a miracle happening in secret, with the outcome visible to our very own eyes. And as if that alone wasn’t a miracle enough unfolding, this is really just the tip of the iceberg! Just as the physical being is becoming through a hidden code and construct, so too is the physic being unfolding under similar guiding principles - an invisible, innate life-force that determine the being’s personality, character, and work that will contribute to the overall harmony of the being and ultimately all of society and the world. Chapter 4: The Newborn Child There is an incongruous relationship between man and child, and it starts immediately at birth, if not sooner in the womb. Though intense feelings of love, awe and joy are certainly possible and present when welcoming a new child into the world, there is also conflicting thoughts that alter our feelings - from concern that the child will soil something, be a nuisance, prevent the new parents from acquiring sufficient sleep - the parent is perpetually on guard for the inconveniences as well as transgressions of the child, no matter how innocent or intentional. In addition to these conflicting thoughts and feelings, Dr. Montessori speaks up for the needs of the newborn. There is great concern for the mother who has obviously labored long and hard and went through a major hardship. However, the helpless child with no voice is not given at least equal consideration for probably the most traumatic experience of the child’s life - being born.

“Too little attention is paid to the newborn child that has just experienced the most difficult of human crises. When he appears in our midst, we hardly know how to receive him, even though he...
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