Mathematical Mind (Montessori)

From Montepedia

In Montessori education, the Mathematical Mind refers to the inherent human tendency towards logical thinking and the acquisition of mathematical skills.[1] According to Maria Montessori, all babies are born with a mathematical mind, exhibiting a natural propensity to learn things that enhance their ability to be exact and orderly, to observe, compare, and classify. Humans naturally tend to calculate, measure, reason, abstract, imagine, and create. However, this vital part of intelligence requires guidance and opportunities to develop and function effectively. If mathematics is not part of a young child's experiences, their subconscious mind may be less receptive to it at a later date.

Montessori Quotes

  • "If we can, when we have established individual discipline, arrange the children, sending each one to his own place, in order, trying to make them understand the idea that thus placed they look well, and that it is a good thing to be thus placed in order, that it is a good and pleasing arrangement in the room, this ordered and tranquil adjustment of theirs -- then their remaining in their places, quiet and silent, is the result of a species of lesson, not an imposition. To make them understand the idea, without calling their attention too forcibly to the practice, to have them assimilate a principle of collective order -- that is the important thing."[2]
  • "The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence."[3]

Research and Critiques

  • Pros: Montessori's theory of the Mathematical Mind aligns with cognitive research suggesting that even young children have a natural capability for and interest in mathematical concepts. Early exposure to mathematics in a supportive, engaging environment, as in Montessori education, can foster this natural inclination and lead to better mathematics performance in later schooling.[4]
  • Cons: Critics argue that not all children may demonstrate an inherent inclination toward mathematics and that other factors such as language development, socio-emotional skills, and creativity are also crucial in early childhood development. They also suggest that a too-early focus on mathematics might not be developmentally appropriate for all children.[5]

Comparisons to Other Methods

Many traditional education models introduce mathematics at a later stage than Montessori education, which emphasizes the natural propensity of young children towards mathematical thinking and introduces mathematical concepts early in a hands-on, exploratory manner.[6]

See Also

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[7] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Montessori, M. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. Clio Press.
  2. Montessori, M. (1912). The Montessori Method. Frederick A. Stokes Company.
  3. Montessori, M. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  4. Lillard, A. (2017). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.
  5. Egan, K. (2002). Getting it wrong from the beginning: Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget. Yale University Press.
  6. Mooney, C. (2013). Theories of Childhood, Second Edition: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget & Vygotsky. Redleaf Press.
  7. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.