ABSORBENT MIND – DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD’S MIND IN MONTESSORI KINDERGARTEN
We neglect the creation of man. We tread upon the wealth God has brought into every child, because the child is the spiritual companion of us adults.
It is a well-known fact that: A child remembers things. However, to remember something, one must have memory and the child does not have one. Moreover, it must be built. To understand that the meaning of a sentence is determined by the arrangement of words in it, one must possess the ability to reason, but it is also something that a child has yet to build.
Our mind, as it is, would not be able to reach as long as a child reaches. One has to possess a different mental make-up to develop language from nothing. The child has it. Its and our intelligence are not the same kinds.
It can be said that we acquire knowledge through our intelligence and that the child adopts it with his whole psyche. In contrast, we are the recipients: impressions are poured into us, we remember them and keep them in mind. Maria Montessori states that, nevertheless, we remain separated from impressions, just like a glass separated from the water that fills it. The child, however, is undergoing a transformation. Impressions not only penetrate his mind, but they also shape and fertilize him. Using what he finds in the world around him, the child creates his mental path. It was given that type of mind the Absorbing Mind.
It is difficult for us to imagine all its possibilities, but it is without a doubt a kind of privileged mind.
Mental absorption of the environment takes place in two stages.
Maria Montessori called the stage from birth to the third year a period of uncertain absorbing mind, during which the brain merely registers sensory impressions.
In the second phase, from age three to six, she believed that the child was using these impressions again, but this time to classify and categorize them. Many unconsciously absorbed impressions are reused, but in different ways, as the basis on which conscious life is built. The original unconscious impressions are the material from which consciousness is knit, with all that it entails – reason, memory, will, and self-knowledge. The practice has shown that at the age of six, all mental achievements are aided by his absorbent mind. All human knowledge is shown to us as a huge achievement because awareness of that knowledge is an acquisition of the mind inherent in the human race. But it is no stranger to us that we pay for every new knowledge by long and painstaking work.
Apart from language acquisition, another child’s marvelous achievement is movement. As a newborn baby, he/she has been lying still in her crib for months. Sometime later, we see him/her walking, touring the world around him/her doing something. It enjoys, is happy and lives day after day.
Every day it learns to move more and more. Having already adopted the language in its entire complexity, with it tries to manage its movements according to its own needs. That’s not all, and many other things it learns at startling speed. It appropriates everything that surrounds it. Habits, customs, and beliefs are firmly embedded in its mind.
The child enters life and accepts its mystical task. The child conceals the perfect plan of its development, which only needs to be allowed to realize, emphasizes Maria Montessori. Little by little, it builds a remarkable personality, adapted to the time and environment to which he belongs. It builds its mind, step by step until it has mastered memory, the ability to understand and reason.
By the time he/she is six, educators find that the being understands and has the patience to listen while it is spoken, and earlier, it has never been able to reach him/her. It lived in a different world, different from ours.
It is not the job of adults to teach, but to help the child’s mind accomplish its task: to develop. We would be delighted to be able to extend the period in which its mind has the power to absorb with its support, intelligent attitude towards the child and understanding of its vital needs. Then we would do a great service to humanity, and help the child to acquire knowledge effortlessly.
The discovery that a child was endowed with a mind capable of absorbing led to a revolution in upbringing. It is now easy to understand why the first period of human development, the one in which personality education is the most important. At no other age does the child have so much need for intelligent help, any obstacle on the way to creativity will diminish his or her chances of achieving perfection. Educators will no longer assist a child because they are considered small and infirm, but because they are endowed with tremendous creative energies. All the energy of a child is very fragile by nature and therefore requires protection full of love and wisdom so as not to be weakened and damaged.
When adults realize that this energy belongs to the unconscious mind, which – through activity and experience with the outside world – should become conscious, when they understand that the child’s mind is different from the mind of the adult, then the whole concept of upbringing will change. It will no longer be based on imposing the words and ideas of educators and parents, but on assisting the child’s life and human psychic development.
This is, undoubtedly, the new path facing education today, a path that leads to supporting the child’s mind, the various processes of its development, its energies and strengthening its capabilities.