Human Needs and Tendencies
~ Order ~ Orientation ~ Exploration ~ Curiosity ~ Communication ~ Work and Concentration ~ Movement ~ Repetition ~ Exactness and Calculation ~ Self-perfection ~ Abstraction and Imagination ~
Dr. Maria Montessori stated “society is in a state of chaos, due to both the impact of new and conflicting ideas which come from all sides... So the general feeling is that no longer is anything permanent” (p. #1). It could be argued that each generation, in general, feels this way. One look at the day’s headlines, and depending on your point of view, it could appear that the planet is imploding. While today societal values are different and more permissive, innocent children have not changed much over many generations.
Humans have needs and yearnings, which are universal. Certain needs are essential to live. The requirement for food, shelter, safety and love trump all. When these basic needs are met, humans can reach higher and achieve greater fulfillment. This relates to the renowned theory of the famous Psychologist Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
This universally accepted idea states that when these foundational needs are met, then the individual can reach the greater heights of esteem and self-actualization. At this stage the individual realizes confidence and the respect of others. Conversely, failure to meet the fundamental needs, especially in children and during the developmental stage, leads to feelings of inadequacy and a host of other physiological and psychological difficulties. The basic tenets of Montessori closely follow these ideas. The goal in education therefore should be to closely monitor and watch for signs of success in the fundamental needs of children. When this has been assured, the child has the potential to strive for growth, independence, identity and the excellence of self-actualization. Effective education therefore enhances the best of human tendencies and suppresses those, which have proven detrimental to reaching an individual’s true potential.
Human tendencies have evolved because of the need for protection and security. This evolution and the struggle of daily life have led humans to levels of innovation and prosperity never imagined. Physical and emotional needs go hand in hand. While human tendencies have led to tremendous material gains, they also have served to allow humans to cope with emotional issues and turmoil. These mechanisms are precisely what have allowed humans to flourish and prosper in harsh conditions in an increasingly hostile world.
Tendencies to be examined and explored (in no specific order):
Orderequates to predictability. This gives the individual the notion of what to expect and how to understand their environment. This leads to self -confidence. Order helps us see relationships and how life fits together. Order frees up time to allow exploration and contemplation and critical thinking. An infant learns order primarily as order is demonstrated by an adult figure. Order acts as an inner compass to the child, developing direction and trust, as expressed by Montessori (1957) “ The first tendencies of the child is to build something within himself which enables him not only to put himself in relation with his surroundings, but which, for the rest if his life, acts as a sort of inner compass related to all sorts if things.” (p. #21). External order creates internal order, providing clarity of thought, leading to effective functioning of clarity in the mind.
Tendencies help individuals in adaptation to new situations through orientation. Orientation helps answer the question “what is my role?” Orientation acts as a landmark in finding a reference point. Orientation gives one direction in becoming a member of a group and or society. This gives one a feeling of belonging and security.
Exploration and curiosity are human traits that are explored through our senses. One mentally observes through their senses as a means to seek survival, as well as pursue progress and meaning. Montessori explains (1957) “Man has explored everything in his environment, always driven of course by his needs. “(p. # 21). Exploration leads to new thinking, ideas and innovation. The areas of exploration in children need to be rich, however limited. Curiosity is the strong desire to want to find out more. Curiosity stimulates individuals, takes away boredom and leads to something new.
Communication is key in human development. Communication is the drive to share ideas. People have been communicating since the beginning of time, dating back to petroglyphs and pictographs. Communication allows one to express themselves through language, laughter, touch, art, and movement. Language is a way for one to convey thoughts and ideas logically and systematically. Man alone kept from communicating with others withers on the vine. A prisoner experiencing solitary confinement suffers greatly for this very reason.
Language is evolving continuously in many unique ways, helping us grow and expand. Communication is a way to gain and share knowledge. It is a way to bond spiritually, socially, morally, religiously and with traditions. Language is not determined by genetics, it is determined by immersion. Montessori (1957) "These tendencies can be helped or hindered towards the fulfillment of their tasks. One of man’s tendencies for instance is to speak, but nature does not dictate what language he shall speak. That depends on the society he will grow up in when he is a child. " (p. #15)
Through hard work individuals achieve what they want. Work and concentration are purposeful activities that provide a very clear goal and end with a purpose. According to Montessori (1992), “Work is linked with man’s creativity and is a universal phenomenon characteristic of the human species.” (p.# 12) The child is more active than passive when concentrating, providing dignity and purpose in ones life. Direct activity gives a child hands on experiences, which leads to independence in mental functionality. Work gives a person great fulfillment. This fulfillment leads to joy, mindfulness, vitality, calmness and self-satisfaction. When the idea of “working” comes from within and individual it becomes irresistible, leading to satisfaction.
Concentration is when one gives his full attention to something he is working on. This is done when there are no distractions. Concentration removes the feeling of restlessness in one’s spirit. Therefore working through concentration aids in the search for meaning in one’s life. Order, orientation and good work habits contribute in supporting concentration.
Movement is physical motion of the body. Participation and inclusion of movement comes from one’s instincts; the life force of direct activities. Manipulation by way of movement is essential in order to physically grasp an item. To experience something on a deeper level we must handle it and experience the item by directly contacting it. Manipulation is done through our physical senses.
Repetition is crucial in helping an individual remember something. Humans have the desire to do things exactly and perfectly. Repetition and practice become exactness, aiding one in gaining control. When there is repetition mastering the task becomes apparent because of persistence. This determination creates confidence and skills in a human
Exactness and Calculation is when the mind coordinates logical thinking and expression through precise actions. Precision is the drive that helps refine skills and techniques by finding the right way to do something, through trial and error. Exactness is achieved through practice and repetition creating competency and polish. When a person reaches this exactness through repetition, the effort becomes more efficient. This efficiency helps one accomplish the most logical way to do something with little to no wasted energy.
The calculation of something aids in reaching exactness. The tendency to make a mathematical estimation is an activity that takes place in measuring accuracy. This is done through timings and predictability from past experiences and observations. Being able to predict something accurately through calculation creates fulfillment and precision. Maria Montessori shares that every human being has a mathematical mind. The mathematical mind gives one the desire and urge to estimate in order to become accurate in predictions.
Abstraction is the mental ability to be able to consider something specific apart from a particular instance. An example of this is the understanding of what a dog is. There are many types of dogs. Dogs are large and small in size. Dogs can have long hair and short hair. Although these animals are varying dramatically in their physical appearance, a human is able to grasp the concept that any type of dog is still a dog no matter what its size. A child is able to grasp and adapt to this non concrete concept at a very young age. Abstraction is a strong characteristic making humans unique to other animals. Abstraction provides humans a great means to communication. Abstraction is the manifestation and the possession of a mathematical mind.
Imagination in the mind is an abstraction of ideas. The imagination has the ability to create something in our minds that does not exist in reality. Imagination is based on a reality that enables someone to adapt culturally instead of biologically or genetically.
Perfection and self-perfection is what leads to exactness. The superior performance of an individual is obvious when all the above tendencies are implemented. Self-perfection is when a human is exploring and striving for things beyond the mundane expectations of everyday life. It is going above and beyond what is expected, thus providing self-satisfaction. It is a human tendency to search for the meaning of life. In seeking self-perfection and mastery of oneself is the highest form of human desire. Achieving or attempting to “reach for the stars” is the person’s way become great. In a young child we first notice self-perfection through the act of self-control of sensory and motor by controlling urges and the will of the body to do what one wants it to do.
A tendency common in all humans is the natural internal guide essential for survival and fulfillment. Human tendency’s present them at birth and continue throughout life. These tendencies are activated daily based on what is available in ones environment. Depending on the stage of ones life, human tendencies will manifest in the ways the individual allows.
***Note to take home***