Today's problems with regard to youth and childhood are the most patent proof that teaching is not the most important part of education. Yet the delusion persists that adults form the man through their teaching of the child.
Actually,education which consists mostly of direct teaching often impedes rather than helps natural human development. The early years are useless for the transmission of culture; therefore the first part of life is disregarded. But those apparently useless years are most fundamental, for during that period an astounding phenomenon takes place: the creation of a human psyche and the development of human behavior.The child learns to function independently, to manipulate, to walk,to talk,to think and to direct himself through his will. The process takes place not because adults teach but because the child creates.
The process remained mysterious until, aided by the intuition of one who loves truly, Dr.Maria Montessori penetrated into the hidden realm of the child's psyche and revealed it. The children who made this revelation possible came from the lowest strata of society; they were tearful, frightened and shy,yet greedy, violent, possessive and destructive. Gradually, as their psychic needs were fulfilled, they underwent such an extraordinary transformation that the press of the time wrote of " converted children." The witnessing of this spiritual phenomenon changed Dr.Montessori's life. It is true that the children learned writing spontaneously at four and a half years, but what was really important was their changed behavior.Man is not made of culture alone; there is something much more essential. If this part continues to be disregarded and emphasis put only on culture, the more advanced man becomes, the more dangerous he will be. Man has discovered flight, he has discovered atomic energy, but he has failed to discover himself.
Herein lies the real value of Dr.Montessori's contribution. To illustrate the radiance of the emerging souls of the children, she undertook a campaign that lasted all her life. After her death the Association Montessori Internationale continued her task with congresses and study conferences, by establishing Montessori societies and training courses. If children are to be given the aid they need, people must be trained. As time went on training centers were established in Ceylon, Denmark, England, Eire,France,Germany,India,Pakistan,Switzerland, and the United States. The people trained spread out to all continents, to the old and the new nations.
But Dr.Montessori's books remain the most effective instrument of the Association, and this first American translation of the Association, and this first American translation of The secret of childhood is a very welcome addition indeed---for our work in all the English speaking countries, but especially in the United State. For here a number of schools use Montessori only as a teaching method. Here also, many people maintain that this is what Dr.Montessori meant.They disregard what she most have often thought this notion should refuted because of the confusion it causes, but where can one find a person to speak with sufficient authority?
Here is the answer.Let Maria Montessori speak for herself.