Psychic Embryo (Montessori)

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In Montessori education, the term Psychic Embryo refers to the concept that the first three years of a child's life is a period of mental development that parallels the physical development that occurs during the nine months of gestation.[1] During this early stage of life, the brain relies on experiences in the environment to complement the genetic blueprint. The term "psychic embryo" highlights the importance of the postnatal period in shaping the human psyche.

Montessori Quotes

  • "The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself."[2]
  • "The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six."[3]

Research and Critiques

  • Pros: The concept of the psychic embryo emphasizes the importance of the early years in cognitive and psychological development, a view that is supported by contemporary research in early childhood education and developmental psychology.[4]
  • Cons: Critics argue that while early experiences are important, this perspective may downplay the significance of ongoing development and learning that happens throughout life. It may also place undue pressure on the early years.[5]

Comparisons to Other Methods

While all pedagogical methods recognize the importance of early years, Montessori's concept of the psychic embryo uniquely highlights the parallels between physical and psychological development and the transformative impact of the environment on the child's mind during the first few years.[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. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  2. Montessori, M. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  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.