The Secret of Childhood

By Maria Montessori; Barbara Barclay Carter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE CHILD TO-DAY

THE CENTURY OF THE CHILD

THE amazingly rapid progress in the care and education of children in recent years may be attributed partly to a generally higher standard of life, but still more to an awakening of conscience. Not only is there an increasing concern for child health--it began in the last decade of the XIXth century-- but also a new awareness of the personality of the child as something ef the highest importance. To-day it is impossible to go deeply into any branch of medicine or philosophy or sociology without taking account of the contribution brought by a knowledge of child life. A parallel, but on a lesser scale, is the light thrown by embryology on physiology in general and on evolution. But the study of the child, not in his physical but in his psychological aspect, may have an infinitely wider influence, extending to all human questions. In the mind of the child we may perhaps find the key to progress, and, who knows, the beginning of a new civilisation.

The Swedish poet and author Ellen Key prophesied that our century would be the century of the child. While anyone with patience to hunt through historical documents would find a recurrence of such ideas in the first King's Speech of King Victor Emmanuel III in Italy, when, in 1900, at the turn of the century, he succeeded to the throne after the assassination of his predecessor. He spoke of the new era beginning with the new century, and he too spoke of it as the Century of the Child.

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The Secret of Childhood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Part I - The Spiritual Embryo 1
  • Chapter I - The Child To-Day 3
  • Chapter II - The Spiritual Embryo 13
  • Chapter III - Mind in the Making 34
  • Chapter IV - Where Adults Impede 74
  • Part II - The New Education 111
  • Chapter I - The Task of the Teacher 113
  • Chapter II - Our Own Method 123
  • Chapter III - Further Developments 154
  • Chapter IV - Psychic Deviations 170
  • Part III - The Child and Society 205
  • Chapter I - Homo Laborans 207
  • Chapter II - The Child as Master 237
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