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The book The Secret of Childhood is divided in three sections, dealing in turn with early childhood development, the author’s educational method, and the relation of the child to society. First, Montessori talks about the new-born child who is not only a body ready to function as a body, but also has a spiritual embryo with latent psychic capacities. The second part of the book gives an account of the first Casa dei Bambini about the essence of the Montessori Method. The adult should be determined to learn from the children rather than to force their own ideas on them. The essence of the Montessori Method lies in: observing, helping, presenting, rather than teaching or forcing. The adult, Montessori claims, must play a low-key role; all is free and open for the child, who chooses his own materials to work with, and learns from them because they interest him. Given the method of free choice of work and materials, the concentration is high and the need for punishment and reward is not necessary. Relieved from the emotional strain of competition and fear, the child becomes stable, confident and happy. • Ballantine: 216 pp, soft cover, 1972 edition.
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