Technology and culture has allowed us to become specialists, living beyond our independent means, we rely on others for the fulfilment of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs, from pilgrimage to industrialised farming our culture is all around us and sustains us.
Any baby is attached through the ‘link of love’ to learn the totality of her own culture that is language, norms, preferences, movements, ethical codes and spiritual inclinations, which her generation will refine further. The meanings of culture can only really be understood by those who made them, and whose needs are fulfilled by it and only through contact with other cultures do we recognise that our own culture is neither inevitable or universal.
Culture is transmitted an sustained by children, it is the stuff of daily life, cooking, self-care, social relations, varying by region, nationality, religion, household and sub-group. To live in harmony the individual submits herself to her groups rules and priorities, while contributing her individual achievements helps to drive forward her culture. Montessori Education aims to serve mankind, lovingly and scientifically to develop according to natural and cultural laws.
To develop and adapt herself she needs to be exposed to and explore every aspect of human culture; that is everything in human life, all excellence and all experience, in an integrated fashion. She uses culture as raw material to develop her psyche by assimilating her culture as her needs arise at the right time, for the right purpose and at the right pace and will do so with joy and ease. In informing the child Montessori uses the senses and movement, her terms were ‘Psychogeometry’ and Psychcomathematics’, to help the child find her niece in her place, time and culture. The Children’s House gives the child sufficient Provision, Stimulation and Protection to allow the child to be in touch with reality. She comes to know about the subjects of Language, Mathematics, ‘The World of Plants’ ( Botany), ‘The World of Animals’ (Zoology), ‘The world of Man’ (Anthropology and History), The Visual Arts, Music and ‘The World Itself’ (Human and Physical Geography), ‘The Exercises of Practical Life and the Sensorial Activities are an introduction to Science, in that they show material properties such as the volume of water and the colour spectrum. These ‘subjects’ are not taught in isolation, but holistically, linked together, from the largest level to the smallest detail,
‘When you find a great treasure place it at the feet of a child for her to preserve’ (Montessori). The child needs to be given knowledge and competency to use human capital in conjunction with freedom to choose materials, explore them and re-explore them according to her Sensitive Periods, with her refined senses in a context which is ordered sufficiently for her to act independently. Being given this her traits and will strengths, her knowledge develops and he ‘link of love;’ becomes ever more secure. These cultural experiences are taken in as seeds to germinate and re-appear with strong roots at the Elementary Level, where her critical thinking, questioning and decision making skills will be primed to respond to these subjects.
In the Children’s House the child responds to the Cultural Materials in these areas
- Exercises of Practical Life – exposure to handling with careful movement, adapting to culture, working with independence and concentration
- Sensorial – capacity to receive sensorial stimulus and classify it intelligently by making abstractions, handling vast concepts and reigniting her initial love for the beauty of the world
Purpose of Culture
- Cultural items as ‘Keys’ to further exploration of the real world
- To build a positive attitude towards cultural items, to appreciate and understand them
- To stimulate curiosity to make connections between items shown and the ‘real world’
- To further develop observation and exploration with a Scientific mind
- The child is encouraged to initiate her own work and develop herself in response to the ‘Keys’ given
- Culture should be revealed to the child with the following considerations
- Objects must stimulate activity
- Te simplest form of the whole is presented first, to stimulate interest
- The while is analysed into it’s parts, with one part presented at a time and the links to the parts made clear
- The child’s knowledge is stored in a chaotic way, showing the whole gives the opportunity for examination and reclassification of old impressions and a refined way to sort new ones
- The child’s intelligence is sensorial and kinaesthetic, an activity which allows for repression allows the child to incarnate aspects of culture into her identity
- The ideas taken in during the First Plane become points of interest to be developed during the Second Plane
- The Prepared Environment stimulates interest in all the world
- Suitable materials for each area which the child can manipulate, starting simply and gradually getting more detailed
- The activities relative to The Exercises of Practical Life, e.g. ‘How to clean a map’, ‘How to look after a musical instrument’
- Sensorial “Keys’ for activities are used so that a child knows enough to pursue her own interests independently, whatever area she chooses is valid and it is the Directress’s response to respond to her questions fully
- Language is needed to let the child communicate, it is given through books, cards, leaflets, writing samples
- The child also produces craft, artwork and creative writing
- The materials should go from concrete to abstract. The activities are given according to the child’s capacity, beginning with the Exercises of Practical Life, then the Sensorial basis, followed by creative expression of experiences in art, creative writing and craft.
- To understand the ‘real world’ materials are given from;
‘The World Itself’ (Human and Physical Geography)
‘The World of Plants’ ( Botany)
‘The World of Animals’ (Zoology)
‘The World of Man’ (Anthropology and History)
‘The World of Science’ (Physics)
The Visual Arts
- Each area has it’s own Nomenclature Cards.
- The child has the opportunity to be creative, within each area. The Exercises of Practical Life give her the necessary skills and techniques to carry out the exercise with physical independence, the use of tools and mentally to concentrate, the Sensorial stage gave her “Keys” with which to analyse her now refined sensorial experiences and both have strengthened her Horme.
- She processes her experience through meaningful language activities, expressing herself creatively through speech and writing and art and craft and reads the thoughts of others and experiences their arts.
- The materials must be kept orderly in good condition, in complete sets and will need to be continually developed.
The World Itself
The activities here help sew the seeds of interest in natural landforms, giving an awareness of the way we and others live is especially important in our globalised society. Firstly the child discovers that the globe is covered in land and water,, is spherical in shape and is sensorially shown and encouraged to recognise different features of land and water; at the global, continental and lastly national level. The napes of the continents and countries are given in the three period lesson.
The World of Plants
The child’s attention is brought to plants initially through looking after plants in the Children’s House through the Exercises of Practical Life – Care of the Environment, her attention is brought to the beauty of plants, indoors and outdoors and to the Grace and Courtesy of caring for and maintaining shared resources. The child is informed about agriculture and industrialisation which links the World of Plants with that of Man e.g. hybrid seeds and using manure
The World of Animals
The child gains experience of handling and caring for other animals, learning their classification, using Nomenclature Cards for species and anatomy. The child is made aware of human responsibility towards domestic animals and to care for the environment of wild animals, and that the needs of animals matter.
The World of Man
Here the child’s interest is focused by comparing the Human Environment which she knows with that of the past, using the Events Chart and Chronology she finds her niece in history and can see that the present is a culmination of the past using the Timeline which marks significant dates. The child realises that she has a history and develops a feel for the concept that some events are recent and some are in the distant past.
The World of Science
Natural Laws of Physics are explored and analysed by the child who conducts experiments and reads pertinent books. After sensorially discovering the facts of temperature, pitch, dimension, the colour spectrum, weight, the Decimal system, Algebra etc. the details of these impressions will be explicitly studied at the Elementary Level
Music and the Visual Arts
As a human being one needs to understand and appreciate basic forms of local art and music, this helps the child to adapt to their society and also to experience different forms of music and art through time and across the globe. Music, Dance, Painting and Drawing are both forms of communication and aesthetic disciplines
The World of Geometry
Geometry is a Scientific Branch of Mathematics, which studies abstract entities and the relationship between them.
“Culture” as it is used here covers all aspects of the man-made world and our anthropological experiences of it. To fully engage with the ‘real world’ the child needs to be offered ‘psychical nutrition’ at the right time ad in a manner she can absorb. Therefore purposeful, sensorial activities are offered to her to help her total human development while acknowledging her past achievements and current needs.