THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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CHAPTER XI
Manual Labour The Potter's Art and Building
Manual labour is distinguished from manual gymnas­tics by the fact that the object of the latter is to exercise the hand, and the former, to accomplish a determinate work, being, or simulating, a socially useful object. The one perfects the individual, the other enriches the world; the two things are, however, connected because, in general, only one who has perfected his own hand can produce a useful product.
I have thought wise, after a short trial, to exclude com­pletely Froebel's exercises, because weaving and sewing on cardboard are ill adapted to the physiological state of the child's visual organs where the powers of the accom­modation of the eye have not yet reached complete develop­ment; hence, these exercises cause an effort of the organ which may have a fatal influence on the development of the sight. The other little exercises of Froebel, such as the folding of paper, are exercises of the hand, not work.
There is still left plastic work,— the most rational among all the exercises of Froebel,— which consists in making the child reproduce determinate objects in clay.
In consideration, however, of the system of liberty which I proposed, I did not like to make the children copy anything, and, in giving them clay to fashion in their own manner, I did not direct the children to produce useful things; nor was I accomplishing an educative result, inas-
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