THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

Scientific Methods As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"

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xxii                          INTRODUCTION
of the senses; Froebel originated a series of objects designed for a much broader and more creative use by the children, but by no means so closely adapted to the training of sensory discrimination. The Montessori material carries out the fundamental principle of Pestalozzi, which he tried in vain to embody in a successful system of his own: it "de­velops piece by piece the pupil's mental capacities" by training separately, through repeated exercises, his several senses and his ability to distinguish, compare, and handle typical objects. In the kindergarten system, and par-{ ticularly in the "liberal" modifications of it, sense training is incidental to constructive and imaginative activity in which the children are pursuing larger ends than the mere arrangement of forms or colours. Even in the most formal work in kindergarten design the children are "making a picture," and are encouraged to tell what it looks like—"a star," "a kite," "a flower."
As to physical education, the two systems agree in much the same way: both affirm the need for free bodily activity, for rhythmic exercises, and for the development of mus-cular control; but whereas the kindergarten seeks much of all this through group games with an imaginative or social content, the Montessori scheme places the emphasis on special exercises designed to give formal training in separate physical functions.
In another general aspect, however, the agreement be­tween the two systems, strong in principle, leaves the Montessori system less formal rather than more formal in practice. The principle in this case consists of the affir­mation of the child's need for social training. In the con­servative kindergarten this training is sought once more, largely in group games. These are usually imaginative, and sometimes decidedly symbolic: that is, the children
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