The Needs and Tendencies of the older child

Montessori had a very particular world view, in this she saw humans as working to satisfy their individual, spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional needs.


She sees children as motivated by their needs, which are similar to the needs adults have but also motivated towards developing themselves into adult humans and satisfying the needs of their particular plane and sensitive periods.  The children are shown a  chart with the Fundamental Needs of Man, introducing them early on in the History programme to the universal needs of man.

Montessori identifies the following needs;

[two_columns ]Physical Needs

  • food
  • shelter
  • clothing
  • transportation
  • defence

[/two_columns] [two_columns_last ]Spiritual Needs

  • music
  • arts
  • literature
  • religion
  • vanity (or to demonstrate our elegance)


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The tendencies help us to satisfy our physical needs, to survive.  Once we are able to survive she notes, in contrast to Maslow, we begin address the spiritual ones.  The foundation of the ‘Supranatura’ is based on the needs of the spirit, to survive well we wish to create, to improve, to contribute. We know that institutions which allow people to meet no more than their physical needs but not to be in community, care for others and not to express themselves are unsuccessful. To survive with humanitiy we are motivated by our tendencies, universal, fundamental, unchanging, inherent potentials at birth which

  • direct our action
  • allow us to adapt
  • guide our understanding of behaviour
  • ensure the satisfaction of our needs
  • put us into contact with the environment and meaningful work
  • develop the physical, social, emotional and spiritual fields in an interconnected way

Tendencies appear in different forms during different planes of development, our need  to understand our environment is met through tendencies  to use our senses in the first plane and later to work with our senses, imagination and reasoning. In the second plane tendencies towards order, orientation and exploration become more intellectual and emotional, children begin to artistically explore, to use their imagination as well as their bodies, to socially orientate, to explore the moral order and social hierarchy, they find social boundaries by testing them, checking them with adults and enforcing them with their peers while also being more physically active and capable.  They abstract the order they find, exploring concepts such as relationships, behaviour, abstract ideas and are driven to intellectual knowledge and investigation asking questions such as ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’.

Our tendencies help us to meet our needs, to keep learning and contributing and furthering ourselves and our societies. To Montessori it is inevitable that people are motivated towards bettering themselves and their world because  she had a particular view of life, nature, human nature and the cosmos.

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