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Understanding of the terms

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Adaptation: can be regarded as a means of self constructing which helps every living being to acquire abilities that facilitate life itself. In the context of animals, we can consider the example of a mother cat that hides herself and the kittens in dark corners and is restless if disturbed. She remains in isolation to nurture, watch and protect the youngster. Most animals show similar behaviours after birth, as a means to help the new born adapt to the new environment.

In humans, at birth this protective instinct is not very clearly visible, but it’s a common practise in several indian communities to isolate the “mother and child” for 45 days, to strengthen their bond and to understand the little one’s physical and emotional needs. Hereafter, the child is on a quest of adaptation at every moment of his life. The child has a special sensitivity enabling him to absorb everything from his environment by way of observation.

The new born who is dependent on his mother for his ever need is exposed to sounds and visuals throughout the day and this is a process by which he is enriching his little mind with tiny specs of information that form the basis of his adaptation. Development: According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, “the act or process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced” is one way of defining development. In relation to child development, it can be regarded as the physical and psychological growth of a new-born until adulthood.

It’s key to note that in the various phases of development, children undergo several different types of changes. These include physical, emotional, biological, social, behavioural changes that shape a child’s unique personality as he becomes more and more independent. Although we can think that development has a well-defined outcome, yet for every child it pursues a unique path leading to distinctive choices in all aspects of life. Education: Montessori believed that education must be the key in the child’s developmental phases, in order for him to adapt suitably and fulfil his individual needs.

She advocated an educational philosophy based on each child’s unique developmental and behavioural needs. Unlike most common education systems which prepare children for specific career choices, she believed in education for the betterment of each individual, without keeping the functional needs of society in mind. In other words, education should be a medium to fulfil each child’s “mental hunger”, by feeding him with resources he desires, rather than presenting all children with identical information, which may seem of disinterest to them. Spiritual Embryo

Montessori believed that the post natal stage of a baby is the period from birth to 3 years during which all the constructive activity takes place. This is the stage of “spiritual embryo”, in which the newborn undergoes radical changes in his environment. This is phase when the child learns his basic life skills including language, movement, memory and thought. The child is most vulnerable to his environment as he grasps, absorbs, and adopts everything he experiences, positive or negative. Several factors play an important role in this stage. These are discussed below: Horme: Simply put, Horme is energy for life.

It is an “inner urge” which pushes the child and drives him to work towards achievement of his goals. According to Montessori, “horme is the force that powers the spontaneous work of the children, and makes them repeat an exercise until they are satisfied”. When we provide a child with an environment with plenty of developmental activities, the horme acts as the stimulus driving the child to carry out the task and in process he undergoes normal and natural development. Horme is a child’s zest for life, to go out in the world, interact with his environment, take actions and create new experiences in life.

“The Horme is a drive which supplies the Spiritual Embryo with a desire to act on his tendencies to fulfil his needs during the appropriate Sensitive Period and to have the energy to make the developments necessary at this phase. It is compared to the will, but is unconscious, more similar to a reflex or an adrenalin rush in an extreme situation in which the conscious mind is overwhelmed and acts on impulse to achieve extra-ordinary tasks”. (http://montessoricommons. cc/the-absorbent-mind/) Mneme: It is important to look at another aspect of the absorbent mind that works closely with the horme is called, Mneme.

This is an unconscious memory passed on genetically, and exists in every being as a memorabilia of the past races. The mneme can be of two kinds: physical and psychic. In case of animals, the physical mneme is responsible for reproduction and the psychic mneme form the instinct. In man, there are no instincts, there is simply the possibility of adaptation of instinct. This unconscious memory is comparable to a camera, that captures images, experiences, information with extreme accuracy and almost instantaneously.

These memories are retained in the child’s mind and become a storehouse of both good and bad experiences that the child witnesses in his environment. A man in his childhood picks up his family customs, rituals, practices and all the little nuances of his culture very easily in his unconscious memory. Nebulae: The nebulae can be described as the “potential” of a child, which enables him to develop his own instincts and build infinite learning’s and achievements. These nebulae drive the child’s absorbent mind to soak up his experiences and everything present in his environment.

One of the simplest explanations of this comes through a closer look at “language” acquisition by a child. A new born child, has no pre-determined language, but irrespective of the difficulty level, he easily learns his mother tongue, and even picks up fluency unlike that of any other language which he may learn later in his life. This comes from an inbuilt “potential to learn any language” and the potential disappears after the child has learned the language, and cannot learn any other language as assured as his own. Subconscious: The subconscious is the collection of all experiences of a person’s life from birth onwards.

It plays a major role in a child’s development at every stage of his being. For example, a new born merely looks around at people with moving lips and making sounds, and those form such long lasting impressions in his subconscious, that one day suddenly he explodes into language and he is on a path to uncover all that his mind has acquired over a long period of time. Even when a child is asleep, and his conscious mind is not at work, the subconscious is extremely active and it brings together all of the child’s experiences and thoughts.

Often, we are able to find answers to complicated situations simply by “sleeping over them”. It is our subconscious that brings together our past experiences and presents us combinations of possible solutions in our sleep. Traditionally schools concentrate entirely on imparting education to the child’s conscious mind, however Montessori believed in an education system that aims towards storing knowledge in the subconscious memory by providing the child with wide variety of experiences so that he builds upon the power to recall his learning’s in his later stages of life.


1. Montessori, Maria The absorbent mind Kala Kshetra Publications 2006

2. Montessori, Maria The Discovery of the Child Mass Market Paperback 1986

3. Internet http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/developmenthttps://montessori4me. wordpress. com/2007/10/08/montessori-terminology/http://montessoricommons. cc/the-absorbent-mind/

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