THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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DISCIPLINE
105
nor stifle the mysterious powers which lie within these two forms of growth, but we must await from them the manifestations which we know will succeed one another.
Environment is undoubtedly a secondary factor in the phenomena of life; it can modify in that it can help or hinder, but it can never create. The modern theories of evolution, from Naegeli to De Vries, consider throughout the development of the two biological branches, animal and vegetable, this interior factor as the essential force in the transformation of the species and in the transformation of the individual. The origins of the development, both in the species and in the individual, lie within. The child does not grow because he is nourished, because he breathes, because he is placed in conditions of temperature to which he is adapted; he grows because the potential life within him develops, making itself visible; because the fruitful germ from which his life has come develops itself accord­ing to the biological destiny which was fixed for it by heredity. Adolescence does not come because the child laughs, or dances, or does gymnastic exercises, or is well nourished; but because he has arrived at that particular physiological state. Life makes itself manifest,— life creates, life gives: — and is in its turn held within certain limits and bound by certain laws which are insuperable. The fixed characteristics of the species do not change,— they can only vary.
This concept, so brilliantly set forth by De Vries in his Mutation Theory, illustrates also the limits of education. We can act on the variations which are in relation to the environment, and whose limits vary slightly in the species and in the individual, but we cannot act upon the muta­tions. The mutations are bound by some mysterious tie
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