The Child in the Family Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1970
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- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Mass Market Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0380426485
- Publisher : Discus/Avon; Mass Paperback Edition (January 1, 1970)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,173,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Just previous to penning my review of this 160 page, indexless book, entitled ''The Child in the Family: The basic principles of the world famous 'Montessori method'" (1956), by Italian physician/psychiatric assistant Maria Montessori, M.D., I attended an Open House at the local Montessori School--one of 7,000 operating in over 120 countries worldwide. At that time I was handed a dossier, called ''MONTESSORI...A Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning'' whose informative materials*, I'll often be quoting from, below. Though not alluded to in that handout, the aforementioned school is private and not-for-profit, eligible for some government subsidies; and has some accreditation. What I had gleaned from that nominal visit at a typical Montessori school, plus, an examination of related remarks on Montessori from those in the psychology of education field, will comprise the preamble to my review of the aforementioned book. Conversely, the review shall basically make apparent what was expressed in the preamble, as I sum up what a Montessori education--as the book's subtitle announces--entails.
Montessori students come from families of diverse backgrounds. The students can be of average or advanced intelligence, autistic, or have Downs Syndrome. The age range for the school's ''pre-Casa'' program is 30 to 36 months, and for their ''Casa'' program, three to six years. Note, however, it has long been understood, as a local, introductory leaflet, ''MONTESSORI SCHOOL...'' 1985), avers ''...a Montessori School is neither a babysitting service nor a play school.'' The costs, according to ''Tuition Fee Schedule for Toddler/Casa Program(s)....''* are not modest--up to $1,000+/month for 5 Full Days/week. The ''Daily Classroom Schedule Sample''* apprises us that the school day, from 8:15 am arrival time to 4 pm dismissal, features classroom work/movement, circle (where pupils greet one another, sing, etc.), outside play, lunch, naptime, and care of environment.
After reading ''Traditional Classroom (vs.) Montessori Environment''* I realized that this was NOT a school featuring the limited, segment driven curriculum of pencil/paper/textbooks and specific subjects, with narrow topics. Nor was it where reticent, immobile pupils are ensconced behind desks and governed by time constraints in a single grade classroom, regardless of anyone's level of social development. Wherein they are subjected to what the academic establishment expects of them, bereft of focus on any special cases. All this for the sake of a good report card. I in fact found that this IS the school where a united, globally cultivated curriculum involving kinesthetic materials (and only one computer--in the library), with integrated mechanisms for monitoring errors, and extensive reference items, are used. Herein flourishing with various combined subjects, learned through developmental psychology principles. Where pupils move freely, conversing and working on continuous time schedules in classes of several age groups, based on how they have developed socially. This school is complaisant to those of all needs. Its assessment of progress addresses the mastery of processes and skills.
As the ''Montessori School...Group Presentation''* outlines, their holistic educational agenda features studies in the following (each, I supply, with an example of the diverse array of objects/tools utilized to assist in learning): culture, i.e., geography (also art, history, music and science), with map puzzles; language, with metal insets to guide hands to write; math, with ten red/blue segmented rods for mastering numbers 1-10; practical life, with tables that are washed to develop eye-hand coordination; and sensorial, with coloured tablets for matching and grading shapes of colour. Later, the teacher presents the object(s) involved, with the term that corresponds to each, so that the two can be associated.
Next, I delve educational psychology, to present encomium and criticism of Montessori, with a bit of her input, to objectively enhance our appreciation of her methodology.
Austrian born American psychoanalytic theorist/child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, Ph.D. (philosophy), (married to a Montessori teacher, and a director of Chicago's Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children), in his work, ''Love is not Enough'' (1950), remarked, ''...we are indebted to...Sigmund and Anna Freud...Dewey...and...Montessori, and Piaget....'' Further, German born American child psychoanalyst/developmental psychologist Erik Homburger Erikson, in his volume entitled ''Childhood and Society'' (1951), regarding a six year old schizophrenic girl who experienced difficulties performing tasks by relating body and self to thought, affirmed that ''She learned the letters of the alphabet by drawing them with her fingers, after studying them with...the Montessori touch method.''
British lecturer Paul Strathern, Ph.D. (mathematics/philosophy), in his volume ''Dewey in 90 Minutes'' (2002), states that, educator (and American Psychological Association president, 1899) John Dewey, Ph.D. (philosophy), believed that ''...education...must...be grounded in, experience. Education is not...arid learning...instead...a process of enlightening enquiry.'' Thus in his system enthused, non-disciplinarian instructors were encouraged to trust in and interact with inquisitive and active students. The incertitude of the complex world they experienced could then be surmounted, contingent on each child's individual psychology. Rote learning based on a simplistic stimulus-response model was shunned; rather, it was ascertained, previous experience enhanced stimuli and sensory experience regulated responses. All somewhat similar to what Montessori's methodology--which emphasized cognitive and social development/learning reinforced by the child repeating his work, thereby feeling successful--also eschewed, according to ''Montessori vs. Traditional Education''*: ''Emphasis on Rote Learning and Social Behavior''/''Learning...reinforced externally by repetition, rewards and punishment.'' Interestingly, the schools--by Montessori (born 1850), and Dewey (born 1859)--of whom both its founders died in 1952, were experimental, but organized; both stressed the child's auto-didactic and self-directed actions through independence, geared toward a ''practical life'' found in the occupations (including the home). Montessori therefore found in her classrooms that, in lieu of toys, children opted for child-sized, adult utensils for kitchen chores, cleaning and dressing. Socializing was more important than relating to dolls. She exclaimed, in one of her lectures from India, as found in her 1949 book ''The Absorbent Mind,'' that ''...Dewey...had the idea that in New York...he would be able to buy some small utensils...for...children.... He could find nothing...whatever....existed were numberless toys....'' Dewey believed children had been forgotten and Montessori termed said the ''Forgotten Citizen.'' Yet, the two educators had their differences, but, as her disciple, Madagascar born British philosophy student/teacher E. Mortimer Standing, in his book ''Maria Montessori Her Life and Work'' (1957), assured, ''It would be interesting to trace the affinities and contrasts between...Montessori and...Dewey.... But that would take us too far afield.''
Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, Dr.Sc. (zoology), and a head of the Swiss Montessori Society (his first observations of children being in a Montessori school), remarked, in ''Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child'' (1970), ''...Maria Montessori...educating backward children.... As it became apparent...their afflictions were more...psychological than...medical...and....then...applied to normal children what she...learned from backward ones: during its earliest stages the child learns more by action than through thought; suitable...equipment...to provide...action with raw material, leads toward knowledge more rapidly than...books or...language...." That's an endorsement of the ''multi-sensory materials'' for learning used in the Montessori type environment, as adumbrated in ''Montessori vs. Traditional Education.''*
Unfortunately, Montessori had her detractors. For instance, Scottish born psychologist Alexander Sutherland Neill, M.A. (English), who founded an English alternative/free school, described in his 1960 book ''Summerhill'' (I reviewed here December 7, 2006), said, ''Even the Montessori system, well-known as a system of directed play, is an artificial way of making the child learn by doing. It has nothing creative....'' And American pediatrician/psychiatrist Benjamin McLane Spock, M.D., in his ''Baby and Child Care'' (1945), stated, ''In...Montessori's method there was no emphasis on social relationships or...spontaneous, creative play.'' Nevertheless, two creative geniuses--Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, are Montessori alumni, among a host of others listed in ''With Graduates Like These...WE MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!!!'' (from ''M: The Magazine for Montessori Families,'' 2007)* Further, ''Casa Program''* explains that they ''...teach the child how to:...-Introduce oneself -Offer help to others...-Shake hands -Welcome visitors -Work cooperatively....'' which confirms the Montessori creative cultivation of respectful social relationship skills. Note that bullying is rare at Montessori and few graduates are hampered by conduct disorders later in life.
Last, but foremost, I will now talk about Montessori's superb, easy to peruse book, ''The Child in the Family.'' It explains the basic principles of the ''Montessori method'' and reflects what was conveyed in the previous two sections of my review. Below, the titles of the volume's 11 chapters and their message, respectively, for each:
I - ''The Blank Page'' - As a personality, the child is a distinct phenomenon from the adult, with his own requirements and rights to fulfill his social endeavours in an environment that has been, hitherto, ignored by adults;
II - ''The Newborn Child'' - What adults consider obstreperousness in the child may indeed be their own defiance against those who deny him his own individual sense of what is protocol;
III - ''The Spiritual Embryo'' - The newborn is sacrosanct, not merely a corporeal entity, so a world is to be prepared by adults who venerate him through love and acceptance of his valuable will to interact with his surroundings, as consciousness comes to fruition;
IV - ''The Love Teachers'' - Adults must be susceptible to a child's cues; children love adults and should, somehow, share in their many activities which, in turn, makes the adult more sensitive and felicitous;
V - ''The New Education'' - Parents should avoid all boundaries that preclude a child from learning various activities, for example, advocating sleep when he is not tired and could therefore be engrossed, uninterrupted, in some learning project;
VI - ''My Method in General'' - The child is incessantly ''becoming'' and, as such, must have an educational milieu. Herein the teacher facilitates more than directs, wherein attentiveness is capitalized through the use of appealing objects, i.e., colours, shapes, specific sounds and surfaces to show tactility, which build his abilities in reading, writing, maths, science, et al;
VII - ''The Character of the Child'' - ''Character'' transcends the ethical and comprises the complete personality, so he should be allowed to decide through his own will how far he can adapt in his environment, when his freedom is esteemed;
VIII - ''The Child's Environment'' - The child should be the one to, for instance, ablute and dress himself as he pleases, in a home that is made to be, as well, his. He should be offered what he needs and permitted to decide--and grow responsibly, facing life's consequences;
IX - ''The Child in the Family'' - Mordant rebuking of a child, in order to teach what is correct, is not efficacious if the proper examples--and parents aren't perfect--are absent for him to freely benefit from;
X - ''The New Teacher'' - The instructor must supply the child classroom materials in an interesting way; showing how they're used, then standing back, as the child becomes the one undertaking the next steps to instruct himself;
XI - ''The Adult and the Child'' - The child must connect thought with action. He has an untapped precocity which adults must permit to bloom, by not projecting their own discombobulations upon him.
Any questions? Raise your hand. No, better yet, visit your local Montessori School, study the commentary on Montessori by educational psychologists and, above all, get ''The Child in the Family'' by Maria Montessori, in your hands.
This book is a revolution for it's time and still is as actual as if it were written last month.
I highly recommend it. It's a shame it isn't as popular as other Montessori books.
Top reviews from other countries
That should really be made much clearer on the initial purchase page