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Describe the difference between the pre-normalised and normalised child.

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Introduction

"Only normalized children aided by their environment show in their subsequent development those wonderful powers that we describe: spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others'' ( CMS Vol. 1, The Absorbent Mind, pg 188) Discuss this statement and describe the difference between the pre-normalised and normalised child. Normalisation is a technical word borrowed from the field of Anthropology. It means becoming a contributing member of the society. Normalisation describes the process that occurs in the Montessori classroom, where young children are allowed to work freely in a prepared environment and they learn to focus and concentrate for sustained periods of time, while deriving self-satisfaction from their work. Dr Montessori first observed normalisation in children during her educational career in the Casa Dei Bambini, San Lorenzo in Rome. She observed that when children are allowed freedom in an environment suited to their needs, they blossom. After a period of intense concentration, and working with materials that fully engage their interest, children appear to be refreshed and contented. Through continued concentrated work of their own choice, children grow in inner discipline and peace. She described normalization as "the single most important result of our work'' (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 18, Pg. 186). Maria Montessori saw the normalised child as a new level of humanity. She used the word normalization so that people would realise that these qualities belonged to all children and were not something special just for a few. The normalised child possesses a unique character and personality not recognized in young children. For Normalisation to occur child development must proceed normally. It must begin right after birth with the non-physical growth of the child's mind, intellect, personality, temperament, spirit and soul."The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth. From this almost mystic affirmation there comes what may seem a strange conclusion: that education must start from birth". ...read more.

Middle

If there is not order to his environment, the child's sense of reason may be off since he will not be able to validate his findings. This does not mean that routines in the classroom cannot change. However, it does mean that change should be carefully considered. Is this change for the good of the child? If yes, then it should be done carefully and its after-effects should be observed to ensure that it is of benefit to the child. To ensure order in a Montessori environment, the materials are grouped into five curriculum areas; Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Cultural. The adult ensures that there is consistency in presentation of activities, everything material has its place and it is returned back to its place after use. Montessori had a deep respect and reverence for nature. Children live in a world of fantasy and she believed that bringing nature close to them would inspire them in the right direction. She continually suggested that Montessori teachers take the children out into nature, rather than keeping them confined in the classroom. This is why natural materials are preferred in the prepared environment. Real wood, reeds, bamboo, metal, cotton, and glass are preferred to synthetics or plastics. In a prepared environment, furniture like chairs and shelves should be child-size so that the child is not dependent on the adult for his movement. Rakes, hoes, brooms and dustpans should all fit children's hands and height so that the work is made easier, thus ensuring proper use and completion of the work without frustration. Montessori environments should be beautiful. It should be a simple and cool place. Uncluttered and well-maintained, it should reflect peace and tranquillity. It should be well decorated with colourful materials. The environment should invite the learner to come in and work. This atmosphere is easily seen by the attitude of those working there, both child and adult. ...read more.

Conclusion

He has the ability to carry through what he has begun. The normalised child shows amazing self discipline that the directress does not need to be there all the time. This discipline is one of the fruits of freedom. "Discipline must come through liberty. . . . We do not consider an individual disciplined only when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mute and as immovable as a paralytic. He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined". (The Montessori Method, Chapter 5, Pg. 86). A pre-normalised child has a low self-esteem. He would abandon his work without completion. He shows some discipline only when an adult is around and it does not last. The crowning characteristic of a normalized child is joy. It is as hard to describe as it is easy to perceive. This joy which shines in the child's face and indeed in his whole demeanor is something more than pleasure or the happiness of being entertained. It is a deep and mysterious emotion. It is in fact the joy that nature always grants as the accompaniment to the right use of his faculties. It is the joy which comes with acting in obedience to the laws of our nature. "The child's life is one in which work- the doing of one's duty- begets joy and happiness" (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 4, Pg 28). A pre-normalized child does not have this joy. It is important and essential that we focus more on the psychic development of the child. This will allow him to build a strong personality while his true nature emerges. Not only the education of the intellect but also education through senses, practical life and social responsibilities has to be a component of the child's education. The adult has to play a major role in preparing the environment, offering purposeful activity and much freedom that stimulates and aids the self-construction of the child, which leads him towards perfect harmony with his environment. Only then will he show "the wonderful powers that we describe" which when cultivated early in life will carry a child far in the future. ...read more.

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