The Absorbent Mind

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``The greatness of human personality begins at birth``
Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.

According to Maria Montessori a child’s potential of learning occurs from birth to six years and the absorbent mind is the image she created to describe, this intense mental activity.

When a child is born, he does not possess the characteristics of an adult human being. An infant cannot express himself in articulate language, cannot use his hands or do his work; he has no tools other than reflexes to survive. Thus he must acquire his survival skills in some other way. Montessori said that the child learns by unconsciously taking in everything around him and actually constructs his memory which is retrieved in later stages for pertinent information. Using his senses, he incarnates or creates himself by absorbing his environment through his very act of living. He does this easily and naturally, without thought or judgment. Montessori referred to this important phase of development as `The Absorbent Mind``.

Montessori saw the absorbent mind in two phases. During the first phase, from birth to three years old, the young child unknowingly or unconsciously acquires these basic abilities. She called it the unconscious creation or the unconscious absorbent mind, which by no means is inferior to the conscious mind of the adult. The child’s work during this period is to become independent from the adult for his basic bodily functions. Once these basic skills are learned, by about three years old, he moves into the next phase of the absorbent mind, which Montessori called the period of conscious work or conscious absorbent mind. During this period, the child mind compels him to prefect in himself that which is now there. Now is the time that the impressions that were taken in by the non-conscious absorbent mind need to be compartmentalised. Therefore a child’s fundamental task during this phase is freedom: freedom to move purposefully, freedom to choose and freedom to...