Montessori’s view of the nature of the child, on which the Montessori method is based, is that children go through a series of “sensitive periods” with “creative moments,” when they show spur-of-the-moment interest in learning. It is then that the children have the greatest ability to learn, and these periods should be utilized to the fullest so that the children learn as much as possible. They should not be held back by forced, rigid curricula (plans of study) or classes. Work, she believed, is its own reward to the child, and there is no necessity for other rewards. Self-discipline (controlling oneself) emerges out of the freedom of the learning environment.

Montessori’s method was basically at odds with other major twentieth-century trends. Thus it was used only by a relatively few private schools. Since the early 1950s, however, her system has enjoyed a revival and a renewed interest in learning disabled children. Her works have been translated into at least twenty languages, and training schools for Montessori teachers have been established in several nations.

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