Montessori Quotes

Following is a selection of quotes from Dr Maria Montessori.

A database of quotes is also available in the Individual Subscribers Section of the website.

Vision

“This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 15)

"Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation." (From the foreword to "The Discovery of the Child", Poona 1948)

“We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.” (Education for a New World, p. 69)

“The study of the child… may have an infinitely wider influence, extending to all human questions.  In the mind of the child we may find the key to progress….” (The Secret of Childhood, p. 3)

“The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 257)

“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” (Education and Peace)

“Directing our action toward mankind means, first and foremost, doing so with regard to the child. The child, that ‘forgotten citizen’, must be appreciated in accordance with his true value. His rights as a human being who shapes all of mankind must become sacred, and the secret laws of his normal psychic development must light the way for civilisation.” (Education and Peace)

“Peace is a practical principle of human civilisation and social organisation that is based on the very nature of man. Peace does not enslave him; rather, it exalts him.... And because it is based on man’s nature, it a constant, a universal principle that applies to all human beings. This principle must be our guide in building a science of peace and educating men for peace.” (Education and Peace)

“The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. He has shown us the true process of construction of the human being. We have seen children totally change as they acquire a love for things and as their sense of order, discipline, and self-control develops within them.... The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” (Education and Peace)

“We recognise the immense power, the unconscious forces existing in the child on the threshold of life. For many years we have been proclaiming that it is necessary to educate the child from the moment of birth. We have traced, through study and practical experience, the ideal path leading to the world of children, of these beings whose social status has as yet not been determined, whose rights have not been recognised and who nevertheless represent the men of tomorrow.” (The San Remo Lectures, 1949)

“Do we believe and constantly insist that cooperation among the peoples of the world is necessary in order to bring about peace? If so, what is needed first of all is collaboration with children.... All our efforts will come to nothing until we remedy the great injustice done the child, and remedy it by cooperating with him. If we are among the men of good will who yearn for peace, we must lay the foundation for peace ourselves, by working for the social world of the child.” (International Montessori Congress, 1937)

“Education should not limit itself to seeking new methods for a mostly arid transmission of knowledge: its aim must be to give the necessary aid to human development.... If ‘the formation of man’ becomes the basis of education, then the coordination of all schools from infancy to maturity, from nursery to university, arises as a first necessity: for man is a unity, an individuality that passes through interdependent phases of development. Each preceding phase prepares the one that follows, forms its base, nurtures the energies that urge towards the succeeding period of life.” (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 84)

“We then become witnesses to the development of the human soul; the emergence of the New Man, who will no longer be the victim of events but, thanks to his clarity of vision, will become able to direct and to mould the future of mankind.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 8)

Independence

“Growth and psychic development are therefore guided by:  the absorbent mind, the nebulae and the sensitive periods, with their respective mechanisms.  It is these that are hereditary and characteristic of the human species.  But the promise they hold can only be fulfilled through the experience of free activity conducted in the environment.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 96)

“Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting on one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 90)

“The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind.” (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 91)

“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 91.)

“Except when he has regressive tendencies, the child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 83)

“The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life.  While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path.  A vital force is active within him, and this guides his efforts towards their goal.  It is a force called the ‘horme’, by Sir Percy Nunn.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 83).

“The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 84)

“At birth, the child leaves a person – his mother’s womb – and this makes him independent of her bodily functions.  The baby is next endowed with an urge, or need, to face the out world and to absorb it.  We might say that he is born with ‘the psychology of world conquest.’   By absorbing what he finds about him, he forms his own personality.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 84)

“The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment.  We call such experience ‘work’.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 7, p. 88)

“Learning to speak, therefore, and the power it brings of intelligent converse with others, is a most impressive further step along the path of independence … Learning to walk is especially significant, not only because it is supremely complex, but because it is done in the first year of life.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 86)

“… the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature.  This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do what he likes.  But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient to one of her laws, the law which decrees that development comes from environmental experience.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 89)

“Happiness is not the whole aim of education.  A man must be independent in his powers and character; able to work and assert his mastery over all that depends on him.”  (The Absorbent Mind, p. 170)

“Under the urge of nature and according to the laws of development, though not understood by the adult, the child is obliged to be serious about two fundamental things … the first is the love of activity… The second fundamental thing is independence.”  (What You Should Know About Your Child, Chapter 3, p. 11)

Four Planes of Development

"Psychologists who have studied children's growth from birth to University age maintain that this can be divided into various and distinct periods." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 17)

"Development is a series of rebirths." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 17)

"During this period the personality undergoes great changes. We have only to compare the newborn babe with the six year old to see this." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 18)

"The next period goes from six to twelve. It is a period of growth unaccompanied by other change. The child is calm and happy. Mentally, he is in a state of health, strength and assured stability." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 18)

"The third period goes from twelve to eighteen, and it is a period of so much change as to remind one of the first. It can again be divided into two subphases: one from twelve to fifteen, and the other from fifteen to eighteen. There are physical changes also during this period, the body reaching its full maturity." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 18)

"I have found that in his development, the child passes through certain phases, each of which has its own particular needs. The characteristics of each are so different that the passages from one phase to the other has been described by certain psychologists as 'rebirths'." (Four Planes of Education, p. 1)

"The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 257)

"My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding from secondary school to University but of passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity and effort of will." (From Childhood to Adolescence, opening)

"Successive levels of education must correspond to the successive personalities of the child. Our methods are oriented not to any pre-established principles but rather to the inherent characteristics of the different ages. It follows that these characteristics themselves include several levels." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 1)

"The first phase of the child's development goes from birth to, let us say, six years of age. At this stage the child is partly at home, partly in school. The plane of education should take both the situations into consideration." (Four Planes of Education, p. 2)

"Education, therefore, of little ones is important, especially from  three to six years of age, because this is the embryonic period for the formation of character and of society, (just as the period from birth to three is that for forming the mind, and the prenatal period that for forming the body." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 221/2)

"Education should not limit itself to seeking new methods for a mostly arid transmission of knowledge: its aim must be to give the necessary aid to human development. This world, marvellous in its power, needs a "new man." It is therefore the life of man and his values that must be considered. If "the formation of man" becomes the basis of education, then the coordination of all schools from infancy to maturity, from nursery to university, arises as a first necessity: for man is a unity, an individuality that passes through interdependent phases of development. Each preceding phase prepares the one that follows, forms its base, nurtures the energies that urge towards the succeeding period of life." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 84)

0-3

"The studies which have been made of early infancy leave no room for doubt: the first two years are important for ever, because in that period, one passes from being nothing into being something." (San Remo Lectures, 1949)

"Others, as a result of careful study, have come to the conclusion that the first two years are the most important in the whole span of human life." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 21)

"The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"During this early period, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge.  He has the power to teach himself." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 5)

"All that we ourselves are has been made by the child, by the child we were in the first two years of our lives." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 6)

"We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 7)

"It follows that at the beginning of his life the individual can accomplish wonders – without effort and quite unconsciously." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 54)

"The infant in arms has far greater mental energies than are usually imagined." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 14)

"Not only does he create his language, but he shapes the organs that enable him to frame the words. He has to make the physical basis of every moment, all the elements of our intellect, everything the human being is blessed with." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 22)

"It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings. How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have. This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence . The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 22)

"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 25)

"The child has a different relation to his environment from ours... the child absorbs it.  The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.  He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear." (The Absorbent Mind, p.56)

"There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life.  He does it in virtue of an unconscious power that exists in childhood….The first period of the child’s life is one of adaptation.  It is the child’s special adaptability that makes the land into which he is born the only one in which he will ever want to live." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 57)

"All the social and moral habits that shape a man’s personality …..are formed during infancy, in virtue of that mysterious mental power that psychologists have called “Mneme”." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 59)

"In the first days of life, it is clear that something of the utmost importance is taking place….he has ‘potentialities’ able to bring about his development, and these do so my making use of the outer world." (The Absorbent Mind, p.72)

"The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his “natural development”.  In other words, if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 76)

"Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs.  He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language.…Very soon afterward, at one year of age, the child begins to walk….So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn…Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom." (The Absorbent Mind, p.78)

"It follows that the child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience “work”." (The Absorbent Mind, p.80)

"How does he achieve this independence?  He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free?  By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity.  The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 84)

"Growth and psychic development are therefore guided by: the absorbent mind, the nebulae and the sensitive periods with their respective mechanisms.  It is these that are hereditary and characteristic of the human species.  But the promise they hold can only be fulfilled through the experience of free activity conducted on the environment." (The Absorbent Mind, p.87)

"….the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings.  Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in.  Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can.  The child, as we have seen, passes through successive phases of development and in each of these his surroundings have an important – though different – part to play.  In none have they more importance than immediately after birth." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 88)

"At one year of age the child says his first intentional word…his babbling has a purpose, and this intention is a proof of conscious intelligence…He becomes ever more aware that language refers to his surroundings, and his wish to master it consciously becomes also greater….Subconsciously and unaided, he strains himself to learn, and this effort makes his success all the more astonishing." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 111)

"At about a year and a half, the child discovers another fact, and that is that each thing has its own name." (The Absorbent Mind, p.113)

"It is after this that the child, who can now walk and feels confident of his strength, begins to notice the actions of those about him, and tries to do the same things.  In this period he imitates not because someone has told him to do so, but because of a deep inner need which he feels." (The Absorbent Mind, p.143)

"This kind of activity (climbing, carrying etc), which serves no external purpose, gives children the practice they need for co-ordinating their movements. ….all the child does is to obey an inner impulse." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 148)

"The child in the postnatal (or psychological) period of his embryonic life, absorbs from the world about him the distinctive patterns to which the social life of his group conforms….He absorbs in short, the mathematical part…..the little child’s need for order is one of the most powerful incentives to dominate his early life." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 173)

3-6

"A three-year-old educated according to Montessori pedagogy, becomes a master of his hand and undertakes with a joy a variety of human activities.  These activities allow him to develop the power of concentration." (San Remo Lectures, p. 27)

"It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed.  Work influences his development in the same way that food revives the vigor of a starving man.  We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile." (San Remo Lectures, p. 28)

"Thus it happens that at the age of three, life seems to begin again; for now consciousness shines forth in all its fullness and glory. Between these two periods, the unconscious period and the one which follows it of conscious development, there seems to be a well marked boundary." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 151)

"So, from the age of three till six, being able to now to tackle his environment deliberately and consciously, he begins a period of real constructiveness." (The Absorbent Mind, p.  152)

"The child must see for himself what he can do, and it is important to give him not only the means of education but also to supply him with indicators which tell him his mistakes……The child’s interest in doing better, and his own constant checking and testing, are so important to him that his progress is assured.  His very nature tends toward exactitude and the ways of obtaining it appeal to him." (The Absorbent Mind, p.  229)

"The little child’s first movements were instinctive.  Now, he acts consciously and voluntarily, and with this comes an awakening of his spirit…. Conscious will is a power which develops with use and activity.  We must aim at cultivating the will…. Its development is a slow process that evolves through a continuous activity in relationship with the environment." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 231)

"The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will be using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption.  The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 257)

"The children of three years of age in the "Children's Houses" learn and carry out such work as sweeping, dusting, making things tidy, setting the table for meals, waiting at table, washing the dishes, etc ., and at the same time they learn to attend to their own personal needs, to wash themselves, to take showers, to comb their hair, to take a bath, to dress and undress themselves, to hang up their clothes in the wardrobe, or to put them in drawers, to polish their shoes . These exercises are part of the method of education, and do not depend on the social position of the pupils; even in the "Children's Houses" attended by rich children who are given every kind of assistance at home, and who are accustomed to being surrounded by a crowd of servants, take part in the exercises of practical life . This has a truly educational, not utilitarian purpose . The reaction of the children may be described as a "burst of independence" of all unnecessary assistance that suppresses their activity and prevents them from demonstrating their own capacities. It is just – these "independent" children of ours who learn to write at the age of four and a half years, who learn to read spontaneously, and who amaze everyone by their progress in arithmetic." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 66)

"These very children reveal to us the most vital need of their development, saying : 'Help me to do it alone!'" (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 67)

6-12

"Education between the ages of six to twelve is not a direct continuation of that which has gone before, though it is built upon that basis.  Psychologically there is a decided change in personality, and we recognize that nature has made this a period for the acquisition of culture, just as the former was for the absorption of the environment." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3)

"The secret of success is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown by attractive literary and pictorial material, but all correlated to a central idea, of greatly ennobling inspiration – the Cosmic Plan in which all, consciously or unconsciously, serve the Great Purpose of Life." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3)

"…the Cosmic Plan can be presented to the child, as a thrilling tale of the earth we live in…." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 2)

"Illustrated as it must be by fascinating charts and diagrams, the creation of earth as we now know it unfolds before the child’s imagination…." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 2)

"We are confronted with a considerable development of consciousness that has already taken place, but now that consciousness is thrown outwards with a special direction, intelligence being extroverted, and there is an unusual demand on the part of the child to know the reasons for things." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3)

"Knowledge can be best given where there is eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.  But if neglected during this period, or frustrated in its vital needs, the mind of the child becomes artificially dulled, henceforth to resist imparted knowledge.  Interest will no longer be there if the seed be sown too late, but at six years of age all items of culture are received enthusiastically, and later these seeds will expand and grow." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3)

"…to give the whole of modern culture has become an impossibility and so a need arises for a special method, whereby all factors of culture may be introduced to the six-year-old; not in a syllabus to be imposed on him, or with exactitude of detail, but in the broadcasting of the maximum number of seeds of interest.  These will be held lightly in the mind, but will be capable of later germination, as the will becomes more directive, and thus he may become an individual suited to these expansive times." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3/4)

"A second side of education at this age concerns the child’s exploration of the moral field, discrimination between good and evil.  He no longer is receptive, absorbing impressions with ease, but wants to understand for himself, not content with accepting mere facts.  As moral activity develops he wants to use his own judgment, which often will be quite different from that of his teachers." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)

"An inner change has taken place, but nature is quite logical in arousing now in the child not only a hunger for knowledge and understanding, but a claim to mental independence, a desire to distinguish good from evil by his own powers, and to resent limitation by arbitrary authority.  In the field of morality, the child now stands in need of his own inner light." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)

"Yet a third interesting fact to be observed in the child of six is his need to associate himself with others, not merely for the sake of company, but in some sort of organized activity.  He likes to mix with others in a group wherein each has a different status.  A leader is chosen, and is obeyed, and a strong group is formed.  This is a natural tendency, through which mankind becomes organized. " (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)

"If during this period of social interest and mental acuteness all possibilities of culture are offered to the child, to widen his outlook and ideas of the world, this organization will be formed and will develop; the amount of light a child has acquired in the moral field, and the lofty ideals he has formed, will be used for purposes of social organization at a later stage." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)

"… we have learnt from him certain fundamental principles of psychology.  One is that the child must learn by his own individual activity, being given a mental freedom to take what he needs, and not to be questioned in his choice.  Our teaching must only answer the mental needs of the child, never dictate them.  Just as a small child cannot be still because he is in need of co-ordinating his movements, so the older child, who may seem troublesome in his curiosity over the why, what and wherefore of everything he sees, is building up his mind by this mental activity, and must be given a wide field of culture on which to feed." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4/5)

"The task of teaching becomes easy, since we do not need to choose what we shall teach, but should place all before him for the satisfaction of his mental appetite.  He must have absolute freedom of choice, and then he requires nothing but repeated experiences which will become increasingly marked by interest and serious attention, during his acquisition of some desired knowledge." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 5)

"Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe.  The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 5)

"We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are a part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.  This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge.  He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)

"If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying.  The child’s mind will then no longer wander, but becomes fixed and can work.  The knowledge he acquires is organized and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him, and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centred." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)

"No matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe.  What better answer can be given to those seekers for knowledge?  It becomes doubtful whether even the universe will suffice.  How did it come into being?  How will it end?  A greater curiosity arises, which can never be satiated; so will last through a lifetime.  The laws governing the universe can be made interesting and wonderful to the child, more interesting even than things in themselves, and he begins to ask:  What am I?  What is the task of man in this wonderful universe?  Do we merely live here for ourselves, or is there something more for us to do?  Why do we struggle and fight?  What is good and evil?  Where will it all end?" (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)

"Not only can imagination travel through infinite space, but also through infinite time; we can go backwards through the epochs, and have the vision of the earth as it was, with the creatures that inhabited it." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 10)

"To make it clear whether or not a child has understood, we should see whether he can form a vision of it within the mind, whether he has gone beyond the level of mere understanding." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 10)

"The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.  Our aim therefore is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to tough his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 11)

"…the child begins to become conscious of right and wrong, this not only as regards his own actions, but also the actions of others…..moral consciousness is being formed and this leads later to the social sense." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 177)

"Our experience with children in elementary schools has shown us that the age between six and twelve years is a period of life during which the elements of all sciences should be given. It is a period that, psychologically, is especially sensitive and might be called the "sensitive period of culture" during which the abstract plane of the human mind is organized." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 85)

12 - 18

"Psychologists interested in adolescent education think of it as a period of so much psychic transformation that it bears comparison with the first period from birth to six. The character is seldom stable at this age; there are signs of indiscipline and rebellion. Physical health is less stable and assured than before." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 19)

"But, above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of manhood and becomes a member of society." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 60)

"If puberty is on the physical side a transition from an infantile to an adult state, there is also, on the psychological side, a transition from the child who has to live in a family, to the man who has to live in society . These two needs of the adolescent: for protection during the time of the difficult physical transition, and for an understanding of the society which he is about to enter to play his part as a man. (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 60)

"The chief symptom of adolescence is a state of expectation, a tendency towards creative work and a need for the strengthening of self-confidence." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 63)

"The essential reform is this: to put the adolescent on the road to achieving economic independence . We might call it a "school of experience in the elements of social life."" (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 64)

"…derive great personal benefit from being initiated in economic independence . For this would result in a "valorization" of his personality, in making him feel himself capable of succeeding in life by his own efforts and on his own merits, and at the same time it would put him in direct contact with the supreme reality of social life . We speak therefore of letting him earn money by his own work. (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 65)

"Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 65)

"Productive work and a wage that gives economic independence, or rather constitutes a first real attempt to achieve economic independence, could be made with advantage a general principle of social education for adolescents and young people." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 66)

"Independence, in the case of the adolescents, has to be acquired on a different plane, for theirs is the economic independence in the field of society. Here, too, the principle of "Help me to do it alone!" ought to be applied." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 67)

"The essential reform of our plan from this point of view may be defined as follows : during the difficult time of adolescence it is helpful to leave the accustomed environment of the family in the town and go to quiet surroundings in the country, close to nature. Here, an open-air life, individual care, and a non-toxic diet, must be the first considerations in organizing a "centre for study and work."" (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 67)

"Life in the open air, in the sunshine, and a diet high in nutritional content coming from the produce of neighbouring fields improve the physical health, while the calm surroundings, the silence, the wonders of nature satisfy the need of the adolescent mind for reflection and meditation." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 67)

"Therefore work on the land is an introduction both to nature and to civilization and gives a limitless field for scientific and historic studies. If the produce can be used commercially this brings in the fundamental mechanism of society, that of production and exchange, on which economic life is based. This means that there is an opportunity to learn both academically and through actual experience what are the elements of social life. We have called these children the "Erdkinder" because they are learning about civilization through its origin in agriculture. They are the "land-children."" (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 68)

"The school where the children live, or rather their country homes, can also give them the opportunity for social experience, for it is an institution organized on a larger scale and with greater freedom than the family. This organization could take the form of a private hotel as far as the management and control are concerned." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 69)

"A shop or store could be established in the nearest big town, and here the land-children could easily bring and sell the produce of their fields and garden and other things that they had made." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 69)

"The shop would also necessitate a genuine study of commerce and exchange, of the art of ascertaining the demand and being ready to meet it, of the strict and rigid rules of bookkeeping . But the thing that is important above everything else is that the adolescent should have a life of activity and variety, and that one occupation should act as a "holiday" from another occupation. The shop would be in respect to the studies of economics and politics an educational object, similar to the aquarium or terrarium in the case of the study of biology." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 70)

"The adolescent must never be treated as a child, for that is a stage of life that he has surpassed. It is better to treat an adolescent as if he had greater value than he actually shows than as if he had less and let him feel that his merits and self-respect are disregarded." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 72)

"The organization must be determined because it is necessary to develop the power of self-adjustment to the environment as it is found, and this adaptation results in cooperation and a happy social life that will facilitate individual progress. The environment must make the free choice of occupation easy, and therefore eliminate the waste of time and energy in following vague and uncertain preferences. From all this the result will be not only self-discipline but a proof that self discipline is an aspect of individual liberty and the chief factor of success in life. A very important matter is the fundamental order in the succession of occupations during the day, and the times for the "change-over". This should be experimental at first and develop into an established thing; necessities will arise and will have to be dealt with and this will tend to create an organization. But it is necessary to consider not only the active occupations but the need for solitude and quiet, which are essential for the development of the hidden treasures of the soul." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 73)

"...there would be all kinds of artistic occupations open to free choice both as to the time and the nature of the work. Some must be for the individual and some would require the cooperation of a group. They would involve artistic and linguistic ability and imagination,..." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 75)

Work

"Among the revelations the child has brought us, there is one of fundamental importance, the phenomenon of normalisation through work. Thousands and thousands of experiences among children of every race enable us to state that this phenomenon is the most certain datum verified in psychology or education. It is certain that the child's attitude towards work represents a vital instinct; for without work his personality cannot organise itself and deviates from the normal lines of its construction. Man builds himself through working. Nothing can take the place of work, neither physical well-being nor affection, and, on the other hand, deviations cannot be corrected by either punishment or example. Man builds himself through working, working with his hands, but using his hands as the instruments of his ego, the organ of his individual mind and will, which shapes its own existence face to face with its environment. The child's instinct confirms the fact that work is an inherent tendency in human nature; it is the characteristic instinct of the human race." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 195)

"... Does Nature make a difference between work and play or occupation and rest?  Watch the unending activity of the flowing stream or the growing tree.  See the breakers of the ocean, the unceasing movements of the earth, the planets, the sun and the stars.  All creation is life, movement, work.  What about our hearts, our lungs, our bloodstream which work continuously from birth till death?  Have they asked for some rest?  Not even during sleep are they inactive.  What about our mind which works without intermission while we are awake or asleep?" (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'What You Should Know About Your Child', Kalakshetra Publications, 138)

"Therefore this work which has built up civilisation and which has transformed the earth is at the very basis of life and is a fundamental part of it. So much so, that it is, as we say, even in the child. Work has existed in the nature of man as an instinct even from birth itself.... The study of society will be held to be a study of the life of the child which shows us in an embryonic stage this profound tendency of humanity and the mechanism by which society is built up." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'Child’s Instinct to Work', AMI Communications, 1973, 4, 9)

"To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child's work and be able to guide it better." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', Clio Press, 135)

"But when through exceptional circumstances work is the result of an inner, instinctive impulse, then even in the adult it assumes a wholly different character. Such work is fascinating, irresistible, and it raises man above deviations and inner conflicts. Such is the work of the inventor or discoverer, the heroic efforts of the explorer, or the compositions of the artist, that is to say, the work of men gifted with such an extraordinary power as to enable them to rediscover the instinct of their species in the patterns of their own individuality. This instinct is then a fountain that bursts through the hard outer crust and rises, through a profound urge, to fall, as refreshing rain, on arid humanity. It is through this urge that the true progress of civilisation takes place." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 196)

"But the child too is a worker and a producer. If he cannot take part in the adult's work, he has his own, a great, important, difficult work indeed - the work of producing man… The child's work belongs to another order and has a wholly different force from the work of the adult. Indeed one might say that the one is opposed to the other. The child’s work is done unconsciously, in abandonment to a mysterious spiritual energy, actively engaged in creation. It is indeed a creative work; it is perhaps the very spectacle of the creation of man, as symbolically outlined in the Bible." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 200)

"Later on the children themselves will tend to become careless in the exact performance of their movements.  Their interest in developing the coordination of the muscles will begin to decline.  The mind of the child will press on, he will no longer have the same love that he had before.  His mind must move along a determined path which is independent both on his own will and that of his teacher.   Later on a sense of duty will make him persevere in doing through voluntary effort that which at a certain period he largely did through love, that is at a time when he had to create within himself new attitudes." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 88)

"The child strives to assimilate his environment and from such efforts springs the deep-seated unity of his personality. This prolonged and gradual labour is a continual process through which the spirit enters into possession of its instrument. It must continually maintain its sovereignty by its own strength, lest movement give place to inertia or become uniform and mechanical. It must continually command, so that movement, removed henceforth from the guidance of a fixed instinct, shall not lose itself in chaos. Hence a creation that is always in process of realisation, an energy always freshly constructive, the unceasing labour of spiritual incarnation. Thus the human personality forms itself by itself, like the embryo, and the child becomes the creator of the man, the father of the man." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 31)

"A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 92)

"… when the cycle is completed, the child detaches himself from his internal concentration; refreshed and satisfied, he experiences the higher social impulses, such as desiring to make confidences and to hold intimate communion with other souls." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Advanced Montessori Method - I', Clio Press Ltd, 76)

"The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 87)

"The child of this age sets out to do a certain task, perhaps an absurd one to adult reasoning, but this matters not at all; he must carry out the activity to its conclusion.  There is a vital urge to completeness of action, and if the cycle of this urge is broken, it shows in deviations from normality and lack of purpose.  Much importance attaches now to this cycle of activity, which is an indirect preparation for future life.  All through life men prepare for the future indirectly, and it is remarked of those who have done something great that there has been a previous period of something worked for, not necessarily on the same line as the final work, but along some line there has been an intense effort which has given the necessary preparation of the spirit, and such effort must be fully expanded - the cycle must be completed.  Adults therefore should not interfere to stop any childish activity however absurd, so long as it is not too dangerous to life and limb! The child must carry out his cycle of activity." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'Education for a New World', Clio Press Ltd, 45)

"This means that it is not enough to set. the child among objects in proportion to his size and strength; the adult who is to help him must have learned how to do so. If the adult, through a fatal misunderstanding, instead of helping the child to do things for himself, substitutes himself for the child, then that adult becomes the blindest and most powerful obstacle to the development of the child's psychic life. In this misunderstanding, in the excessive competition between adult work and child work, lies the first great drama of the struggle between man and his work, and perhaps the origin of all the dramas and struggles of mankind." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 208)

"The mind takes some time to develop interest, to be set in motion, to get warmed up into a subject, to attain a state of profitable work.  If at this time there is interruption, not only is a period of profitable work lost, but the interruption, produces an unpleasant sensation which is identical to fatigue.

Fatigue also is caused by work unsuitable to the individual.  Suitable work reduces fatigue on account of the pleasure derived from the work itself.  Thus the two causes of fatigue are unsuitable work and premature interruption of work." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'What You Should Know About Your Child', Kalakshetra Publications, 135)

"But in our specially prepared environments we see them all at once fix themselves upon some task, and then their excited fantasies and their restless movements disappear altogether; a calm, serene child, attached to reality, begins to work out his elevation through work.  Normalisation has been achieved." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 162)

"The child is by nature a worker, and when, by working in this special fashion, which is according to his nature, he can accomplish a great deal of work without ever feeling fatigue. When he works in this way he shows himself to be happy and by working in this way he also becomes cured of certain psychic anomalies that he had, and by curing himself of these he enters into a more natural form of life." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'Child’s Instinct to Work', AMI Communications, 1973, 4, 9)

"One day some little spirit awakens; the ego of some child takes possession of some object; attention becomes fixed on the repetition of some one exercise; executive skill perfects itself; the irradiation of the child's countenance indicates that its spirit is being born anew." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'On Discipline - Reflections and Advice', AMI Communications, 1991, 4, 21)

"The reaction of the children may be described as a "burst of independence" of all unnecessary assistance that suppresses their activity and prevents them from demonstrating their own capacities. It is just these "independent" children of ours who learn to write at the age of four and a half years, who learn to read spontaneously, and who amaze everyone by their progress in arithmetic.  These children seem to be precocious in their intellectual development and they demonstrate that while working harder than other children they do so without tiring themselves.  These children reveal to us the most vital need of their development, saying: 'Help me to do it alone!'" (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'From Childhood to Adolescence', Clio Press Ltd, 65)

"The child simply takes up an attitude of profound isolation, and the result is a strong peaceful character, radiating love on all around. Arising from this attitude are self sacrifice, unremitting work, obedience, and at the same time a joy in living, like a bright spring that sprang up among surrounding rocks, and is destined to help all living creatures around it. The result of concentration is an awakened social sense, and the teacher should be prepared for what follows: to these little newborn hearts she will be a creature beloved." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'On Discipline - Reflections and Advice', AMI Communications, 1991, 4, 22)

"At this stage the completion of an entire cycle will exercise an influence more and more far-reaching on the personality of the child. Not only is he spurred on to a work of intimate concentration immediately after his culminating effort, he preserves a permanent attitude of thought, of internal equilibrium of sustained interest in his environment. He becomes a personality who has reached a higher degree of evolution. This is the period when the child begins to be "master of himself " and enters upon that characteristic phenomenon I have called the "phenomenon of obedience". He can obey, that is, he can control his actions, and therefore can direct them in accordance with the desires of another person. He can break off a piece of work when interrupted, without becoming disorderly or showing symptoms of fatigue. Moreover, work has become his habitual attitude, and the child can no longer bear to be idle." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Advanced Montessori Method - I', Clio Press Ltd, 81)

"Now the little child who manifests perseverance in his work as the first constructive act of his psychic life, and upon this act builds up internal order, equilibrium, and the growth of personality, demonstrates, almost as in a splendid revelation, the true manner in which man renders himself valuable to the community. The little child who persists in his exercises, concentrated and absorbed, is obviously elaborating the constant man, the man of character, he who will find in himself all human values, crowning that unique fundamental manifestation: persistence in work. Whatever task the child may choose it will be all the same, provided he persists in it. For what is valuable is not the work itself, but the work as a means for the construction of the psychic man." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Advanced Montessori Method - I', Clio Press Ltd, 139)

Teacher

"She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquillity, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 151)

"The teacher must not content herself with merely providing her school with an attractive environment; she must continuously think about this environment, because a large part of the result depends on it. The teacher, therefore, must:

a) keep the didactic developmental material in perfect order. If this is not the case, the children will not take an interest in it and if they do not, the material becomes useless, as the entire Montessori method is based on the spontaneous activity of the child which is aroused precisely by the interest the child takes in the material.

b) make sure that every object used by the children has a place of its own that is easily accessible to them." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'Some Words of Advice to Teachers', AMI Communications, 1995, 4, 14)

"Now the adult himself is part of the child's environment; the adult must adjust himself to the child's needs if he is not to be a hindrance to him and if he is not to substitute himself for the child in the activities essential to growth and development." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 106)

"In her duty of guiding a child in using the material, a teacher must make a distinction between two different periods. In the first she puts the child in contact with the material and initiates him in its use. In the second she intervenes to enlighten a child who has already succeeded in distinguishing differences through his own spontaneous efforts. It is then that she can determine the ideas acquired by a child, if this is necessary, and provide him with words to describe the differences he has perceived." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 153)

"An ordinary teacher cannot be transformed into a Montessori teacher, but must be created anew, having rid herself of pedagogical prejudices. The first step is self-preparation of the imagination, for the Montessori teacher has to visualise a child who is not yet there, materially speaking, and must have faith in the child who will reveal himself through work. The different types of deviated children do not shake the faith of this teacher, who sees a different type of child in the spiritual field, and looks confidently for this self to show when attracted by work that interests. She waits for the children to show signs of concentration." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'Education for a New World', Clio Press Ltd, 67)

"We ourselves have lost this deep and vital sensitiveness, and in the presence of children in whom we see it reviving, we feel as if we were watching a mystery being unfolded. It shows itself in the delicate act of free choice, which a teacher untrained in observation can trample on before she even discerns it, much as an elephant tramples the budding flower about to blossom in its path.

The child whose attention has once been held by a chosen object, while he concentrates his whole self on the repetition of the exercise, is a delivered soul in the sense of the spiritual safety of which we speak. From this moment there is no need to worry about him - except to prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', Clio Press, 248)

"Praise, help, or even a look, may be enough to interrupt him, or destroy the activity. It seems a strange thing to say, but this can happen even if the child merely becomes aware of being watched. After all, we too sometimes feel unable to go on working if someone comes to see what we are doing. The great principle which brings success to the teacher is this: as soon as concentration has begun, act as if the child does not exist. Naturally, one can see what he is doing with a quick glance, but without his being aware of it." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', Clio Press, 255)

"The work of the teacher is to guide the children to normalisation, to concentration. She is like the sheepdog who goes after the sheep when they stray, who conducts all the sheep inside. The teacher has two tasks: to lead the children to concentration and to help them in their development afterwards. The fundamental help in development, especially with little children of three years of age, is not to interfere. Interference stops activity and stops concentration. But do not apply the rule of non-interference when the children are still the prey of all their different naughtinesses." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Child, Society and the World: Unpublished Speeches and Writings', Clio Press Ltd, 16)

"Before such attention and concentration have been attained, the teacher must learn to control herself so that the child's spirit shall be free to expand and show its powers; the essence of her duty is not to interrupt the child in his efforts. This is a moment in which the delicacy of the teacher's moral sensitiveness, acquired during her training, comes into play. She must learn that it is not easy to help, nor even, perhaps, to stand still and watch. Even when helping and serving the children, she must not cease to observe them, because the birth of concentration in a child is as delicate a phenomenon as the bursting of a bud into bloom. But she will not be watching with the aim of making her presence felt, or of helping the weaker ones by her own strength. She observes in order to recognize the child who has attained the power to concentrate and to admire the glorious rebirth of his spirit." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', Clio Press, 248)

"The vision of the teacher should be at once precise like that of the scientist, and spiritual like that of the saint. The preparation for science and the preparation for sanctity should form a new soul, for the attitude of the teacher should be at once positive, scientific and spiritual.

Positive and scientific, because she has an exact task to perform, and it is necessary that she should put herself into immediate relation with the truth by means of rigorous observation...

Spiritual, because it is to man that his powers of observation are to be applied, and because the characteristics of the creature who is to be his particular subject of observation are spiritual." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Advanced Montessori Method - I', Clio Press Ltd, 107)

“The teacher of children up to six years of age knows that she has helped mankind in an essential part of its formation. She may know nothing of the children's circumstances, except what they have told her freely in conversation; possibly she takes no interest in their future: whether they will go on to secondary schools and the university, or end their studies sooner; but she is happy in the knowledge that in this formative period they were able to do what they had to do. She will be able to say: 'I have served the spirits of those children, and they have fulfilled their development, and I kept them company in their experiences.'" (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind', Clio Press, 259)