THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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XXX
INTRODUCTION
pare the ordered foundation upon which the child may build up a clear and strong mentality," including, appa­rently, his moral ideals; and that the cultivation of purpose and of the imaginative and creative capacities of children is far less important than the development of the power to learn from the environment by means of the senses. These views seem to agree rather closely with those of Herbart and to some extent with those of Locke. Cer­tainly they offer material for both psychological and ethi­cal debate. Possibly, however, Dr. Montessori would not accept the views here ascribed to her on the evidence of this book; and in any case these are matters for the phi­losopher and the psychologist. A pedagogical issue is never wholly an issue of high principle.
Can it reasonably be maintained, then, that an actual situation like that in the first "House of Childhood" at Rome is the only situation in which the Montessori prin­ciple of liberty can justifiably find full application ? Evi­dently the Roman school is a true Republic of Childhood, in which nothing need take precedence of the child's claim to pursue an active purpose of his own. Social restraints are here reduced to a minimum; the children must, to be sure, subordinate individual caprice to the demands of the common good, they are not allowed to quarrel or to interfere with each other, and they have duties to perform at stated times; but each child is a citizen in a community governed wholly in the interests of the equally privileged members thereof, his liberty is rarely interfered with, he is free to carry out his own purposes, and he has as much influence in the affairs of the commonwealth as the average member of an adult democracy. This situation is never duplicated in the home, for a child is not only a member of the family, whose interests are to be considered with
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