THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

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

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TEACHING OF NUMERATION            331
The crosses represent the objects, while the circle stands for the folded slip containing the figure. Having arranged his objects, the child awaits the verification. The direct­ress comes, opens the slip, reads the number, and counts the pieces.
When we first played this game it often happened that the children took more objects than were called for upon the card, and this was not always because they did not remember the number, but arose from a mania for the having the greatest number of objects. A little of that instinctive greediness, which is common to primitive and uncultured man. The directress seeks to explain to the children that it is useless to have all those things upon the desk, and that the point of the game lies in taking the exact number of objects called for.
Little by little they enter into this idea, but not so easily as one might suppose. It is a real effort of self-denial which holds the child within the set limit, and makes him take, for example, only two of the objects placed at his disposal, while he sees others taking more. I therefore consider this game more an exercise of will power than of numeration. The child who has the zero, should not move from his place when he sees all his companions rising and taking freely of the objects which are inaccessible to him. Many times zero falls to the lot of a child who knows how to count perfectly, and who would experience great pleasure in accumulating and arranging a fine group of objects in the proper order upon his table, and in await­ing with security the teacher's verification.
It is most interesting to study the expressions upon the faces of those who possess zero. The individual differ­ences which result are almost a revelation of the " char­acter " of each one. Some remain impassive, assuming a
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