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The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
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The Absorbent Mind (1949)

by Maria Montessori

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Every reader loves a mystery, and what more fascinating than one hidden in the 'heart' of the new-born child? This book touches on prenatal experience, but is mainly concerned with the growth and education of the child from birth, through the formative years, to adulthood.

The world-famous educationalist, Dr. Maria Montessori, illustrates the unique mental powers of the young child, which after no more than six years surpasses all other species. With penetrating insight, validated by close observation of child phenomena, she sheds light on the responsibility of adults to prepare the environment for the manifestation of the great potentialities and latent spiritual grandeur in the child.
  rajendran | Aug 27, 2008 |
A tough read, especially a 120 page stretch in the middle (chapers 5-15). But, it has a special kind of complex elegance. Montessori puts forward her theories of education and the whole state of the human race. It’s a real, full, coherent education theory that actually feels workable. This I think is unique in education (I’m no expert). And it is all expressed with such intelligence. I kept finding comments that just needed to be highlighted, and I copied out six pages of quotes.

This is not a book to pick up lightly, and it’s not the one you want to go to if you are thinking of putting your children in a Montessori school and are looking for introduction into the method. This book is work. Also, the book extends far beyond the Montessori teaching method, and only some of the details of that system are included here. Maria Montessori gave the lectures that eventually became this book while in India during WWII. She had gone to Holland after being exiled from Italy by Mussolini in the 1930’s. When the Germans overran Holland, she was placed in India. She was in her 70’s and had successfully been teaching her method for 40 years. This was book was a life's work in summary.

I think these quotes cover part of her theory as expressed here:

We, by contrast, are recipients. Impressions pour into us, and we store them in our minds; but we ourselves remain apart from them, just as a vase keeps separate from the water it contains. Instead, the child undergoes a transformation. Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it. They incarnate themselves into him. The child creates his own “mental muscles,” using for this what he finds in the world about him. We have named this type of mentality, The Absorbent Mind. p. 24

The hand is in direct connection with man’s soul, and not only with the individual’s soul, but also with the different ways of life the men have adopted on the earth in different places and at different times. p. 138

We often forget that imagination is a force for the discovery of the truth. p161

The pity of it is that after six, children can no longer develop character and its qualities spontaneously. Thenceforward the missionaries, who are also imperfect, find themselves faced with considerable difficulties. They are working on the smoke, and not on the fire p190

If we examine the programmes of work recommended for use in schools, we see at once their poverty and dullness. The education of today is humiliating. It produces an inferiority complex and artificially lowers the powers of man. Its very organization sets a limit to knowledge well below the natural level. p195 ( )
  dchaikin | Jul 21, 2007 |
This is Montessori's last book, and the most in-depth discussion of her theory based on decades of scientific observation of children. It discusses the special mind of the child, and how nurturing the special potentialities that only children have is the only way to change (and save) humanity. Montessori's theories are particularly interesting today in light of recent neurological discoveries, especially those related to critical periods and language.
This is a very dense book, and requires a good deal of concentration and time to read. I would recommmend The Child in the Family as the first book for one wanting an overview of Montessori ideas ( )
1 vote LTW | Sep 6, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805041567, Paperback)

In response to the crisis in American education, more than five thousand public and private schools across the nation have adopted the timeless Montessori Method of teaching, of which this book is the cornerstone. Written by the women whose name is synonymous worldwide with child development theory, The Absorbent Mind takes its title from the phrase that the inspired Italian doctor coined to characterize the child's most crucial developmental stage: the first six years.

A new foreword by John Chattin-McNichols, Ph.D., President of the American Montessori Society, places this classic book in a contemporary context, offering an intelligent discussion of current thinking in child education.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:59 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A leading educator discusses the importance of the first six years to a child's normal physical and emotional development.

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