The Absorbent Mind was Maria Montessori's most in-depth work on her educational theory, based on decades of scientific observation of children. Her view on children and their absorbent minds was a landmark departure from the educational model at the time. This book helped start a revolution in education. Since this book first appeared there have been both cognitive and neurological studies that have confirmed what Maria Montessori knew decades ago.
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A beautifully written, highly unpleasant story. Not, strictly speaking, horror - at least, it fails on my basic calculation. No one ever, for more than a few minutes, feels helpless. In fact, the horror is rather ineffectual - short-term scary, but never anything like overwhelming. It is a very nasty story, on several levels - lots and lots of (mostly illusionary, but not entirely) gore, but more importantly some seriously screwed-up characters. And all of them seem to be determined to do a thorough job of screwing up any parts of their lives that aren't already screwed up. Drugging yourself constantly (whether with legal or illegal drugs) is a really bad way of handling problems - they only show up later, and worse, and accompanied by the problems caused by the drugs. In fact, my objection to the book is less that it's horror and more that it's too literary - unpleasant things happening to unpleasant people. It does improve on most literary novels by having something of a happy ending - several of the characters are actually better off, both physically and emotionally, than they were when we first met them. So I'm not really sorry I read it. However, I have no intention of ever reading it again, or any others by the author. Not my cup of tea. If you truly enjoy R. Crumb comics, though, read this - you'll love it.more
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. p195more
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 ideasmore
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