Maria Montessori described the sensorial materials as the "key to the universe" Discuss this statement and give examples to support your discussion.
"The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world, they cast a light upon it which makes visible to him more things in greater detail than he could see in the dark, or uneducated state."(1. Montessori Maria, the Absorbent page 190, chapter 17). Montessori believed that sensorial experiences began from birth to six. At this stage, children learn and develop by using their five senses which help in making mental order in their environment. These five senses are visual sense the child learns how to visually discriminate differences between similar objects and differing objects. Second is tactile sense, the child learns through his sense of touch. “Although the sense of touch is spread throughout the surface of the body, the Exercises given to the children are limited to the tips of the fingers, and particularly, to those of the right hand.” (Montessori, Maria (1997) The Discovery of the Child) This allows the child to really focus on what he is feeling, through a concentration of a small part of his body. In the Stereognostic Sense Exercises, the child learns to feel objects and make recognitions based on what he feels. “When the hand and arm are moved about an object, an impression of movement is added to that touch. Such an impression is attributed to a special, sixth sense, which is called a muscular sense, and which permits many impressions to be stored in a “muscular memory”, which recalls movements that have been made."(Montessori, Maria (1997) the Discovery of the Child, Oxford, England: Clio Press) .In the Baric sense, the child learns to feel the difference of pressure or weight of different objects, this sense is heightened through the use of a blindfold or of closing your eyes . In the Thermic Sense, the child works to refine his sense of temperature. In the Olfactory and Gustatory Sense Exercises, the child is given a key to his smelling and tasting sense. Although not all smells or tastes are given to the child in these Exercises, the child does work to distinguish one smell from another or one taste from another. He can then take these senses, and apply them to other smells or tastes in his environment. In the Auditory Sense Exercises, the child discriminates between different sounds. In doing these different Exercises, the child will refine and make him more sensitive to the sounds in his environment; there are four kinds of sounds human, animal, natural and mechanical sounds. Dr. Montessori felt that this was the ideal period in the child’s life to introduce him the equipment that would sharpen his senses and facilitate his comprehension of the many impressions he receives through them. So that Sensorial lessons enable the child to learn him by using his hands and his mind. We find that Dr. Benjamin Franklin once said “tell me and I forget. Teach me and remember. Involve me and learn”. In order to serve this purpose; Dr. Maria Montessori introduced a subject called ‘Sensorial', it comes from the word sense or senses. As there are no new experiences for the child to take from the Sensorial work where the materials are specially designed to enable the child to use his senses to explore different attributes of the world... the child is able to concentrate on the refinement of all his senses, from visual to stereognostic. Dr. Montessori based her method of teaching young children considering the fact that a child between two to six years passes through the ‘sensitive period' for the refinement of sense along with the others and they can be helped in the development of the senses while they are in this formative period. "It is necessary to begin the education of the senses in the formative period, if we wish to perfect this sense...
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