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

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INTRODUCTION                         xxix
liberty and for the training of the senses will be denied even in the work of schools where the conditions correspond closely to those at San Lorenzo. Of course no practical educator will actually propose bathtubs for all schools, and no doubt there will be plenty of wise conservatism about transferring to a given school any function now well dis­charged by the homes that support it. The problems raised by the proposal to apply in all schools the Montessori con­ception of discipline and the Montessori sense-training are really more difficult to solve. Is individual liberty a uni­versal educational principle, or a principle which must be modified in the case of a school with no such social status as that of the original "House of Childhood" ? Do all children need sense training, or only those of unfavorable inheritance and home environment ? No serious discussion of the Montessori system can avoid these questions. What is said in answer to them here is written in the hope that subsequent discussion may be somewhat influenced to keep in view the really deciding factor in each case—the actual situation in the school.
There is occasion enough in these questions, to be sure, for philosophical and scientific argument. The first ques­tion involves an ethical issue, the second a psychological issue, and both may be followed through to purely meta­physical issues. Dr. Montessori believes in liberty for the pupil because she thinks of life "as a superb goddess, ever advancing to new conquests." Submission, loyalty, self-sacrifice seem to her, apparently, only incidental necessi­ties of life, not essential elements of its eternal form. There is obvious opportunity here for profound difference ">f philosophic theory and belief. She seems to hold, too, that sense perception forms the sole basis for the mental and hence for the moral life; that "sense training will pre-
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