THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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CHAPTER IX
Muscular Education Gymnastics
The generally accepted idea of gymnastics is, I con­sider, very inadequate. In the common schools we are accustomed to describe as gymnastics a species of collective muscular discipline which has as its aim that children shall learn to follow definite ordered movements given in the form of commands. The guiding spirit in such gym­nastics is coercion, and I feel that such exercises repress spontaneous movements and impose others in their place. I do not know what the psychological authority for the selection of these imposed movements is. Similar move­ments are used in medical gymnastics in order to restore a normal movement to a torpid muscle or to give back a normal movement to a paralysed muscle. A number of chest movements which are given in the school are ad­vised, for example, in medicine for those who suffer from intestinal torpidity, but truly I do not well understand what office such exercises can fulfil when they are fol­lowed by squadrons of normal children. In addition to these formal gymnastics we have those which are carried on in a gymnasium, and which are very like the first steps in the training of an acrobat. However, this is not the place for criticism of the gymnastics used in our common schools. Certainly in our case we are not considering such gymnastics. Indeed, many who hear me speak of gymnastics for infant schools very plainly show disap-
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