Excerpts from a Speech by Renilde Montessori
Presented at the 1988 International Study Conference, “Education for the Twenty-First Century,” in Washington D.C., this seminal lecture by the late Renilde Montessori captures the essential vision of Montessori education as a timeless support to human development. Renilde Montessori’s prescient words, spoken years before the turn of the century, describing the needs of the human spirit and the challenges confronting human civilization, still ring true today.
The following are a number of excerpts from Ms. Montessori’s wonderful speech.
“We cannot take for granted that our children need remedial help in all areas and at all stages of their development. Wise people are alarmed, for the very good reason that humanity, like every living entity, tends towards wholesome growth. And when we build systems that become cumbersome and irrelevant, we sooner or later trash them and we begin again to look to see whether some other means is available to achieve our ends.“
“The definition of Montessori education cannot be reduced to a bland formula, because in its vastness and in its minute detail it is fluid and expansive like life itself. Indeed, Maria Montessori defined her pedagogy in the best possible way: “Education as an aid to life”; education as an aid to the spirit of life as it finds expression in the human species.“
In Education and Peace, Maria Montessori writes: “The human being needs to know things, and he is much more capable of learning spontaneously than we have supposed. It is also true, however, that if a child’s intelligence is not stimulated, he withdraws, and his interest flags. The majority of children are thus condemned to waste their childhood and never realize their potential.”
All children are born with an “initial perception of beauty—of the beauty of existence, of the infinite beauty of truth to be sought. It is devastating to realize how poorly we respond to the purity of this perception. It should be the guiding light in the education of our children. Instead, we all too often educate them with what seems to be deliberate perverseness, to become hollow.”
“…human beings, if they are to fulfill their potential, need to learn to study, to work; to observe, to explore, to question; and having found the answer, discover with great cheer that it leads to further questions; to search for truth, content to know that ultimate truth will not be ours; to strive for goodness which once achieved will allow us to strive for greater goodness.”
“The Montessori philosophy of education has in common with many of the great philosophies an earthy spirituality. It is unique in that it provides clear and explicit guidelines for helping the human being achieve his potential. Therefore, one can safely say yes, Montessori education can lead us into the 21st century. It serves humanity now and will do so in the 21st century and beyond throughout time, for so long as humanity exists, for so long as it is understood for the stern, elegant discipline it really is.”
“For in the end, education as an aid to life heeds only life itself. By following the child, we follow the timeless human spirit, the spirit “that is inherently capable of a kind of love that is not transitory, that does not change, that does not die.”
You can find the full version of this speech at http://montessoriguide.org/the-timeless-human-spirit.
Global Montessori has been offering primary child care, after school care, and the Montessori method of schooling since 1988. We accept infants, toddlers, kindergarten and elementary school students living in and around the Langley area and beyond. For more information, visit https://globalmontessorischool.com.