Dr. Montessori observed that children learn quite quickly from the world around them without any explicit instruction. This is what she would later call the “absorbent mind.” She also saw that children thrive when they have the opportunity to physically manipulate objects in order to learn more abstract concepts. For instance, a child can more easily grasp what “quantity” is from holding 1, 2, or 3 small blocks. A young child that is not yet able to hold a pen or draw with control can learn the concept of forming letters from a letter drawn with sandpaper on a smooth board.
Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.
Through her study of children, Maria Montessori saw an inherent desire to learn and the power of self motivation. All she had to do was provide appropriate materials and the children were often able to teach themselves with little guidance. She also identified that children learn by absorbing ideas from their environment, which is why the design of the classroom is so important to a Montessori school. A well designed and well guided class will foster independence and a lifetime love of learning.
The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.
Wherever Dr. Montessori travelled in the world, she also saw how a child will also absorb the ideas of grace and courtesy from a benevolent and respectful environment. She developed a great respect for the “work” a child must do learning about the world and in growing up. This is why we emphasize peace in our curriculum and the materials the children use are not what they “play” with, but their work.