The Human Tendencies



What factors help a child become adapted to any society, no matter what its pattern of behavior?

These all important factors are what psychologists call "human tendencies". Dr. Montessori believed that all humans exhibit these tendencies, throughout time, by virtue of being a human being.

The tendencies are inherent in all human beings.

(Mario Montessori, The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education AMI Second Edition p. 13)


The tendencies, according to Mario Montessori, can be aided or adversed. The first adaptation is the one that becomes part of us. It is rare for any person to be able to speak a second language as well as the native language. People generally construct themselves once. After that, the basic structure is in place, though it can be varied slightly.

"A child's desire to work represents a vital instinct since he cannot organize his personality without working: a man builds himself through working."
(Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood Ballantine Books 1966p. 186)


A Montessori education supports these basic tendencies:

To Explore

To Move

To Be Independent

To Make Decisions

To have Order

To Create

To Work

To Repeat

To Concentrate

To Perfect One's Efforts

To Express Oneself

To Share With a Group

To Develop Self-Control



The Human Tendencies by Greg McDonald, AMI Elementary Trainer

A tendency is an inclination or a leaning toward something. It is an influence on a certain result, but not a guarantee. Maria Montessori believed human beings do not have instincts in the way animals have instincts. Through her observations, she found that humans do not. Human beings have the potential to form certain characteristics. She considered the human being as a self-constructor. The human tendencies, she said, were urges that were unsummoned and what is responsible for the child's self construction and adaptation. The child adapts to her surroundings in very different way than animals. They are innate urges toward a general behavior. One is to explore, another is to work. The human tendencies can be thought of from two different points of view. One is how they are related to human survival. A major part of human history has been purely on survival. Anything that contributed to a .successful survival became part of the human genetic code. The tendencies began as behaviors that help humans to survive. More recently another aspect of human tendencies has come about. Physical survival is not something that consumes humans' minds now. Now the human tendencies are more related to the child becoming a part of his or her community. Instead of having to worry about where the food is coming from or self-protection, people are now focused on cultural issues and adaptations. Communication is an aspect of human tendency. As far as Maria Montessori having made a list of the tendencies, she did not do so. There are many she speaks about, but not a definitive list. It doesn't matter what is considered a tendency, what matters is that people recognize that children possess a battery of tendencies that help them to create the human they become and help them to adapt to the specific culture or time. Adults can either assist or block the operation of human tendencies. Adults can either nurture or cripple the child's construction. The point of the tendencies is to be aware the child has the tendencies to operate and is therefore able to self construct.

Some Human Tendencies:

Orientation
Exploration
Order
Control of self
Imagination
Abstraction
Work/Manipulation/Movement
Repetition
Perfection/Exactness
Commurncation
Belonging
Creation of Symbol



Orientation
To determine one's position with reference to one's physical marker is orientation. People have the inner urge to work out where they are. It can be observed in children. The first humans depended very much on orientation. They needed to know certain land markings to know where the water hole was. They needed to know which caves to avoid. There's a psychological orientation that goes on as well. How a person feels inside about the environment she's in is very important.


Exploration

Now instead of physical survival, the child is trying to adapt to his or her environment. Children explore to find out about their world. This exploration is especially powerful during the first six years of life. A lot of visual exploration happens, as well. What are people doing? How are they moving around? What are they talking about? What. things are important to them? Around age six or seven the questions become more about why rather that what. Exploration is to travel or range over with the view to make a discovery. It is a search or effort to find something new. In the classroom, exploration happens all of the time. When a child is presented with a new material, exploration occurs. The child will probably wonder whether or not it's possible to take the lesson further and have questions to explore other possibilities. Early humans also had to explore in order to find food and water. Also they needed to explore by eating various foods in order to find which foods were poisonous. Montessori observed that humans begin explore from the time of birth. Adults continue to explore the world. Now humans are exploring space and the psychology of the species. Exploration has taken humans from grass huts to space stations.
Now instead of physical survival, the child is trying to adapt to his or her environment. Children explore to find out about their world. This exploration is especially powerful during the first six years of life. A lot of visual exploration happens, as well. What are people doing? How are they moving around? What are they talking about? What. things are important to them? Around age six or seven the questions become more about why rather that what.


Order
This is a proper state or condition and a regular disposition or methodical arrangement. The tendency to order allows people to make a pattern and to sequence. The urge to maintain physical order is very strong in young children. Many conflicts arise between parents and children because parents may not understand the child's need for an ordered external life. They need routine and consistency. The order helps the child make sense of her world and to predict what will happen next. Older children also have a tendency for order. Not necessarily physically, but mentally. The children of this age have a strong ability to reason and logic in conversation. In the time of early humans, order was also i portant. Knowing what to expect is a part of order.


Remarks on Orientation, Exploration, and Order Orientation, Exploration, and Order are fundamental to the classroom environment.
Each child must be oriented to the classroom, are able to freely explore, and that there a routine and physical order to the room. If this happens, then the adult is helping the child to successfully construct.


Remaining Human Tendencies

Control of Self
A control is a restraining power or influence. If a child is manifesting control of self, then that child may be waiting very patiently for another child to put away a certain material so he can use it. A child of any age who is painstakingly and carefully coloring has control of self. Primitive human beings had to have control of self as well. Control of self can be related to the idea of perfection. To reach a degree of perfection, one needs to do things a certain way, or at a certain pace. It is control of self that relates to social situations. Having grace and courtesy helps to maintain the order of the community. If the child is to have control of self, the child must have freedom. Especially the child who has little self control, needs to have freedom so he learns to have control of self.


Imagination
Montessori called imagination the power to think of'things not immediately present. Montessori believed imagination comes from sensorial experiences. In children, one can observe imagination happening when they make up stories or tell you about an experience hey had at another time. There are children in elementary who can accomplish complicated problems in their heads by imagining the manipulation of the materials in their minds. In primitive times imagination was required in order to think about what might be. Imagination drives the intelligence of the hand to create. Fantasy, daydreaming to inventions and composing music or art, all involve the use of imagination. In Montessori's view, intelligence is linked to imagination and activity. Montessori called imagination the great power of the second plane child.


Abstraction

Abstraction: to draw away (Latin). It is something treated apart from any particular object. Abstraction is the mental isolation of various qualities or attributes of something. It is knowing the essence of something. The drawing from the concrete to the abstract. There is evidence of abstraction when a child can verbalize the process of addition. The child may notice an activity in one area correlates closely with an activity in another area. Abstraction has enabled humans to transform the world. It also allows people to carry information from one situation to the next. It is also linked to imagination.


Work/Manipulation/Movement

Work is the excursion of energy directed at some purpose. A child's desire to work represents a vital instinct since he cannot organize his personality without working: a man builds himself through working. (Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood Ballantine Books 1996 p.1 86) Elementary children have a desire for what is called "great work". Work happened with ancient
peoples too, as they farmed, hunted, etc. Children, when they work are generally manipulating something. Look for them using their hands. The children can also manipulate images in their minds. Work and manipulation happen with movement. Montessori recognized that children need to be free to move. Work demands the operation of the mind and body working together for the self construction and normalization.



Repetition

The act of repeating or practicing again and again is an important tendency for learning. In the elementary, the act of repetition is usually an elaboration of what they did previously. There is a repetition through variety. In the elementary, the child will find many ways to get to the same result. They are interested in new ways to do things. In primitive times it was important to practice in order to perfect certain survival skills and even pottery.


Perfection Exactness

Perfection means without blemish or defect, flawless. Exactness refers to correction, preciseness. These tendencies are evident in children when they will do a drawing over and over again to make it exactly the way they want it. The ancients needed to perfect their skills in order to survive. The adults assist the activity of perfection with controls of error. This is how the child will become aware of the flaw.

Communication/Belonging

Information or intelligence imparted by word or writing includes communication. Music, poetry, songs, discussion are all ways people communicate and express. The elementary children will form societies and clubs together. In order to pass on knowledge to one another and to pass on to other generations, people have communicated ideas, traditions and other knowledge of the society.


Creation of Symbol

The creation of an object, animate or inanimate, that stands for or "calls up" something else.
Symbols are especially evident in the art of the elementary children. Early humans used pictures and dance to symbolize things. From words came the symbols for words, or writing.


The Human Tendencies Support the Development of Culture

This has to do with the tendency to support and pass down the information of a culture. Driven by all of the tendencies together, exists the evolving of a group of people. Whatever the child experiences as a young person, she assimilates into new things learned throughout the lifetime. People do not miss what their culture doesn't have. Different cultures have different ways of living, but the tendencies are the same. All cultures work, but some drive a car, some drive a cart.



The human tendencies are a part of human nature. If you inspect human nature, it is hard to deny their existence. To respond to the existence of human tendencies, we must become new adults. We need to become familiar with the child, remove obstacles that may interfere with the child's interaction with the environment, and to prepare the environment and attach the child to it. Observe the children everyday to see that all of the human tendencies free to operate. If they are not observable, then something needs to be fixed in the environment. Watch for the tendencies and think of them as signposts, check the map and stay on the correct route.


A Montessori education supports these basic tendencies:


To Explore

To Move

To Be Independent

To Make Decisions

To have Order

To Create

To Work

To Repeat

To Concentrate

To Perfect One's Efforts

To Express Oneself

To Share With a Group

To Develop Self-Control