THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION
xxiii
play at being farmers, millers, shoemakers, mothers and fathers, birds, animals, knights, or soldiers; they sing songs, go through certain semi-dramatic activities—such as "open­ing the pigeon house," "mowing the grass," "showing the good child to the knights," and the like; and each takes his part in the representation of some typical social situation. The social training involved in these games is formal only in the sense that the children are not engaged, as the Montessori children often are, in a real social enterprise, such as that of serving dinner, cleaning the room, caring for animals, building a toy house, or making a garden. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that even the most conservative kindergarten does not, on principle, exclude "real" enterprises of this latter sort; but in a three-hour session it does rather little with them. Liberal kinder­gartens do more, particularly in Europe, where the session is often longer. Nor does the Montessori system wholly exclude imaginative group games. But Dr. Montessori, despite an evidently profound interest not only in social training, but also in aesthetic, idealistic, and even religious development, speaks of "games and foolish stories" in a casual and derogatory way, which shows that she is as yet unfamiliar with the American kindergartner's remarkable skill and power in the use of these resources. (Of course the American kindergartner does not use "foolish" stories; but stories she does use, and to good effect.) The Montes­sori programme involves much direct social experience, both in the general life of the school and in the manual work done by the pupils; the kindergarten extends the range of the child's social consciousness through the im­agination. The groupings of the Montessori children are largely free and unregulated; the groupings of kinder­garten children are more often formal and prescribed.
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