The portion of the lecture reproduced here is a faithful reproduction of the original Humfray-Child lectures, who were commissioned by Maria Montessori to begin teacher training in London in 1946. Since they were written so long ago a number of their references will strike the reader as quaint, but no effort has been made to modernize the lectures since they represent such a charming and, indeed, eloquent statement of the heart and soul of the Montessori method. These lectures were based on Dr. Montessori’s original writings and authored by two educators closely tied to Dr. Montessori. They continue to be essential reading for parents and teachers alike who are interested in the Montessori Method of Education. (April, 1995)
The following is an excerpt from the Humfray-Child Lecture #1 “New Education”:
Everything begins in childhood. The baby is helpless, without self-consciousness, language or memory. Everything must be constructed. To construct a human being is the greatest work of all, and it is on this great achievement that our interest should center. Educationalists have tended to devote far too much attention to the mistakes that children make. All of their great achievement gets hidden behind a few small errors! These errors that are so often the result of adult interference and failure to understand! We must change this attitude. We shall never get an understanding by studying mistakes and errors. We must see the great achievement, the miracle. Then we shall be able to study the path of development from childhood to manhood and all the different phases that the child passes through. Then we shall understand how we can help and not hinder the work of the child, and our educational system will be planned, to give this help so that the potential powers of the child at birth may be developed to the fullest.