From Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind (1949):
I, too, believe that humanity is still far from that stage of maturity needed for the realization of its aspirations, for the construction, that is, of a harmonious and peaceful society and the elimination of wars.Â Men are not yet ready to shape their own destinies; to control and direct world events, of which–instead–theyÂ become the victims.
But although education is recognized as one of the ways of raising mankind, it is nevertheless, still and only, thought of as an education of the mind.Â This it is proposed to train on the same lines as of old, without trying to draw upon any new vitalizing and constructive forces.
I do not doubt that philosophy and religion can bring to the task an immense contribution, but how numerous are the philosophers in this ultr-civilized world!Â How many have there not been in the past, and how many will there not be in the future?Â Noble ideals and high standards we have always had.Â They form a great part of what we teach.Â Yet warfare and strife show no signs of abating.Â And if education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future.Â For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?Â Instead, we must take into account a psychic entity, a social personality, a new world force, innumerable in the totality of its membership, which is at present hidden and ignored.Â If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.
I am not knowledgeable about the “Montessori method,” but there is something unarguable in what she is proposing.Â The question is this:Â how will help and salvation come from the children?Â Who will teach them to teach us?Â How will the children learn how to teach us?