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PREFACE My aim, in writing this book, is to show that the externalism of the West, the prevalent tendency to pay undue regard to outward and visible "results" and to neglect what is inward and vital, is the source of most of the defects that vitiate Education in this country, and therefore that the only remedy for those defects is the drastic one of changing our standard of reality and our conception of the meaning and value of life. My reason... more...

Words and terms have, to different minds, various significations; and we often find definitions changing in the progress of events. Bailey says learning is "skill in languages or sciences." To this, Walker adds what he calls "literature," and "skill in anything, good or bad." Dr. Webster enlarges the meaning of the word still more, and says, "Learning is the knowledge of principles or facts received by instruction or study; acquired knowledge or... more...

CHAPTER I.INTEREST IN TEACHING. There is a most singular contrariety of opinion prevailing in the community, in regard to the pleasantness of the business of teaching. Some teachers go to their daily task, merely upon compulsion: they regard it as intolerable drudgery. Others love the work: they hover around the school-room as long as they can, and never cease to think, and seldom to talk, of their delightful labors. Unfortunately there are too... more...

The Child and the Curriculum Profound differences in theory are never gratuitous or invented. They grow out of conflicting elements in a genuine problem—a problem which is genuine just because the elements, taken as they stand, are conflicting. Any significant problem involves conditions that for the moment contradict each other. Solution comes only by getting away from the meaning of terms that is already fixed upon and coming to see... more...

HOW THE CHILD DEVELOPS Condition at Birth Let us see, then, exactly what his condition is. In the first place, he is, as Virchow, an authority on physiological subjects declares, merely a spinal animal. Some of the higher brain centers do not yet exist at all, while others are in too incomplete a state for service. The various sensations which the baby experiences—heat, light, contact, motion, etc.—are so many stimuli to the... more...


A SURVEY OF THE CHILD'S LIFE   The general laws which govern the child's psychical health have their parallel in those of its physical health.—Many persons who have asked me to continue my methods of education for very young children on lines that would make them suitable for those over seven years of age, have expressed a doubt whether this would be possible. The difficulties they put forward are mainly of a moral order. Should... more...

This collection of scattered thoughts and observations has little order or continuity; it was begun to give pleasure to a good mother who thinks for herself. My first idea was to write a tract a few pages long, but I was carried away by my subject, and before I knew what I was doing my tract had become a kind of book, too large indeed for the matter contained in it, but too small for the subject of which it treats. For a long time I hesitated... more...

DR. MONTESSORI’S OWN HANDBOOK Recent years have seen a remarkable improvement in the conditions of child life. In all civilized countries, but especially in England, statistics show a decrease in infant mortality. Related to this decrease in mortality a corresponding improvement is to be seen in the physical development of children; they are physically finer and more vigorous. It has been the diffusion, the popularization of science,... more...

THE POINT OF VIEW There is an endless, and perhaps worldwide, controversy as to what constitutes the "essentials" of education; and as to the steps to be taken in the teaching of these essentials. The safe plan for constructive workers appears to be to avoid personal educational philosophies and to read all the essentials of education within the needs and processes of the community itself. Since we are using this social point of view in making... more...

CHAPTER I TEACHING SCHOOL   Life and living compared.—There is a wide difference between school-teaching and teaching school. The question “Is she a school-teacher?” means one thing; but the question “Can she teach school?” means quite another. School-teaching may be living; but teaching school is life. And any one who has a definition of life can readily find a definition for teaching school. Much of the... more...