"Within the child lies the fate of the future. Whoever wishes to confer some benefit on society must preserve him from deviation and observe his natural ways acting. A child is mysterious and powerful and contains within himself the secret of human nature."
Explain the above quote with reference to the Montessori philosophy.
The term 'Montessori Philosophy' originated from the name of Dr. Maria Montessori, one of the most influential pioneers in early childhood education. She advised an education which combines a philosophy with a practical approach based on the central idea of freedom for the child within a carefully planned and structured environment. To analyze the above quote, we will have to know what it is in essence the Montessori philosophy.
Maria Montessori was a soft hearted lady who happened to live through the two world wars. She was very much worried that in spite of the development of science and technology in the world, why men are very much unhappy, cruel and keep fighting with each other. She believed that this is because of the lack of fulfillment of human mind. So she deducted that as the adult comes into being through the child, it is important to consider the human being way down from the very childhood itself. Montessori has once opined that “It is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child he once was.” (http://www.dailymontessori.com/maria-montessori-quotes/)
Montessori, who became the first lady doctor in the history of her country, was appointed as assistant doctor at a psychiatric clinic. From this position she got chances to observe some mentally retarded children. Under her care and love many of these children improved even to a position that they could read and write. After that Maria Montessori got chance to look after some slum children for whom she made a home. This was called 'Casa Dei Bambini, means children's house. It was from here that Montessori philosophy actually evolved into being. Montessori made a new way of education in which the child is considered as the centre of education with the adult serving only as one who is helping him to develop as a whole; physically, cognitively, emotionally, spiritually and socially. She discovered that with such an education a unified personality is formed. According to Montessori philosophy, the child has an unrealized potential within himself when he is born. This potential is what helps him to develop from birth onwards. This is called predetermined psychic pattern. Christoph Schiebold states that "Good education is not to follow the pages of a workbook. It’s following the workbook that’s within the child!" (http://educationaljournal.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/quote-christoph-schiebold) The predetermined psychic pattern (also known as natural laws of development) is there in the child in an embryonic stage when the child is born. So as only a healthy mother gives birth to a healthy baby, the predetermined psychic pattern in the baby also needs a nourishing environment to grow well.
In the given quote it is stated 'a child is mysterious and powerful and contains within himself the secret of human nature'. In reference to Montessori philosophy the potentials present in the child from birth itself is what makes the child mysterious and powerful. That itself is the secret of human nature too. The child is mysterious because there is an internal guide in the child which alone lets these laws to unfold themselves. We the adults are not able to understand what is happening there within the child. We can see only certain signs of these laws of natural development reveal themselves by carefully observing the child's behavior.
Now let us analyze why the child is described as being powerful. For this we will have to know what the laws of natural development in essence are. These are law of work, law of independence, development of attention, development of will,...
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