Movement - the Child’s Muse
Maria Montessori foresaw many developments in the study of movement and how it pertains to children and their education. It is necessary to consider how and why movement was such an integral part of her philosophy and how evidence from modern day research confirms the importance of movement in education. Both Montessori and educational specialists draw a link between movement and brain development (Hannaford 1995). This paper will examine how other educational theories have embraced a similar approach and focus on movement to develop intellectual thinking. Maria Montessori and contemporary researchers shared a similar concern about society’s disconnect with the way we view education and its disregard for the role that body movement plays in acquiring knowledge. In her works she discusses how our movements allow us to interact with our outside world bringing alive our intellectual thoughts and the crucial role it plays in creating relationships. She states that, ‘Movement is therefore an essential part of life and education cannot be seen as moderating or inhibiting it’ (1967:80). Her theory is confirmed by Frank Wilson in his book The Hand, where he states, `The most effective techniques for cultivating intelligence aim at uniting (not divorcing) mind and body’(1998:289). Carla Hannaford also discusses this idea in Smart Moves, stating that ‘learning, thought, creativity, and intelligence are not processes of the brain alone, but of the whole body’ (1995:11). Montessori had intuitively come to the same conclusion that the researchers of today have found; that we rely on the body’s movement to receive vital information from our environment that gives shape to our brain’s development. Montessori saw the central nervous system as the essential area for this growth. It is important to understand how Montessori saw the brain and its relationship to movement. To do this we must look at the systems that she thought were a crucial part of this relationship. Montessori looked at the central nervous system as the direct link to movement of the muscles. The coordination of the brain and the muscles working together allows man to develop thoughts from the information he receives by moving and interacting with his world. Montessori felt that through these mechanisms the child is able to develop intellect by engaging in active learning. Learning methods that allow a child to move muscles to engage in a tactile way with materials were developed to utilize the information sent from the brain (1984:141). When a child repeatedly practices these movements they are continually exercising their brains; repeated movements form synaptic connections and this allows the child to advance both physically and mentally. This is what has become known as muscle memory. Montessori explains in The Absorbent Mind, ‘Movement helps the development of the mind and this finds renewed expression in further movement and activity’ (1984:146). I personally observe this every day in the classroom as the children move about with excitement to choose their work and diligently sit to engage with the materials, working actively to master the task before them and allowing their intellect to strengthen. I watch the four year old boy who is working with a tong exercise, continuously engaging his hand and arm muscles to move the plastic eggs from the basket into the slots in the muffin tray. He repeatedly engages these muscles as he picks up all 15 eggs and repeats the activity a second time. The synaptic connections from his brain occur in every back and forth motion he manipulates with the use of his body movements. Jenson gives support to Maria`s ideas in his book, Brain Based Learning, stating that, ‘…the part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning’ (1995:163). We can see the close link between the brain and movement of the body when we consider how they must work in tandem to receive...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document