THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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INTKODUCTIOJST
xxxix
for writing there can be little doubt. The child gains ready control over his pencil through exercises which have their own simple but absorbing interest; and if he does not learn to write with an "arm movement/' we may be quite content with his ability to draw a legible and handsome script. Then he learns the letters—their forms, their names, and how to make them—through exercises which have the very important technical characteristic of involving a thorough sensory analysis of the material to be mastered. Meumann has taught us of late the great value in all memory work of complete impression through prolonged and intensive analytical study. In the teaching of spelling, for instance, it is comparatively useless to devise schemes for remem­bering unless the original impressions are made strong and elaborate; and it is only by careful, varied, and de­tailed sense impression that such material as the alphabet can be thus impressed. So effective is the Montessori scheme for impressing the letters—especially because of its novel use of the sense of touch—that the children learn how to make the whole alphabet before the abstract and formal character of the material leads to any diminution of inter­est or enthusiasm. Their initial curiosity over the char­acters they see their elders use is enough to carry them through.
In Italian the next step is easy. The letters once learned, it is a simple matter to combine them into words, for Italian spelling is so nearly phonetic that it presents very little difficulty to any one who knows how to pro­nounce. It is at just this point that the teaching of English reading by the Montessori method will find its greatest obstacle. Indeed, it is the unphonetic character of English spelling that has largely influenced us to give up the alpha­bet method of teaching children to read. Other reasons,
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