Human Tendencies, Montessori

Category: Human
Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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Throughout history, humans have relied on their ingenuity and adaptability for survival. Regardless of race, country, or culture, people follow similar patterns of exploration, inventiveness, and creativity. After years of careful observation, Maria Montessori was able to identify the importance of tendencies that compel human beings to construct and refine the world around them.

The practical application of the Montessori Method is based on human tendencies to explore, move, share with a group, to be independent and make decisions, create order, develop self-control, abstract ideas from experience, use the creative imagination, work hard, repeat, concentrate, and perfect one’s efforts. Tendencies are important to every human being as it draws us to adapt and survive under different circumstances. Therefore, it is necessary to know the definition of tendencies and its general characteristics. Definition of tendencies

What do we understand by the word ‘tendency’ is predisposition to think, act, behave, or proceed in a particular way, an inclining or contributing influence. In other words, tendencies draw human being to achieve something and develop. According to Montessori these tendencies are innate.

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They are the basis of our predispositions, or as named by Montessori in Formation of Man, our nebulae. Human Tendencies is a natural urge to do something and is developed throughout our development. It is beneficial to know and understand the basic human tendencies that we, as humans develop naturally.

Every human being needs to find in the environment oxygen, food, water, love and protection in order to survive and then to develop, so we have to survive first and then to progress. These tendencies help us to become human. These are the ways in which we, humans are all similar. They unite us as a species and distinct humans from animals. ‘There are certain basic factors which do not change.

What may change is what is given to the mind. ’ The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education - Mario M. Montessori, AMI, pg. 6 We can see that tendencies do not change and human tendencies are hereditary. Everyone has the same tendencies, but the way we use them is differently. The tendencies lead us and children learn independently from the environment and adapt to any society.

General characteristics

  • Tendencies are universal and all human beings have them no matter where they are born in the world, irrespective of culture, nationality, race and religion.
  • They are present in all human beings right from birth and as such described as inborn or inert and they last throughout life. They are unchanging in the way they function and have remained the same for different generations, but only modified to suit the environment man finds himself in.
  • There are several tendencies and all working together and not in isolation, are interconnected. An important principle in The Absorbent Mind is that education starts from birth, so we must guard the child’s psychic power in the first few years.

The importance of tendencies for human being

These tendencies are important for humankind and they need to be express full to be suitable for us to live and develop.

These tendencies are present at all ages of our lives but some are stronger than others during different developmental periods. The tendencies also vary in the way and strength in which they appear in different people but they all exist in some form in every person. And it is these tendencies which guide our development and this one of the reasons why are important for the humankind. Tendencies serve to help human beings survive and develop fully making something of them. Animals have instinct and are born complete with everything they need to survive in an environment.

The human beings have tendencies which drive them to explore, develop and adapt in order to survive whatever the environment is. Human beings have both physical and psychological needs. The physical needs for food, shelter and clothing, and the psychological need for security, love, art, music and culture. It is the tendencies that drive the humankind to look for and create those things that meet his physical and psychological needs from within his environment.

Montessori’s belief in the potential of every human being is grounded in the idea that the world can be changed for the better if education is adapted to he child’s true nature instead of being limited to the transmission of academic knowledge. However we also need to recognise that as members of the human species, children are born with certain genetic traits or potentialities, unique to human beings, Montessori called these traits, human tendencies.

These tendencies relate directly to human needs: for example our need for food is linked with our tendency to explore.

  • Tendency for Exploration

It is through movement that exploration began. People learn from the discoveries they make or that which others before them made.

They look around and make connections with things in their environment also by smelling and hearing. The child will have the natural urge to explore their environment they are in and are constantly learning from what they see and hear around them. The child is learning how to use their basic senses as in see, taste, touch, hear and manipulate something or the other. In the first few months the child is learning how to move his arms and legs he is not very strong at this time his muscles are not developed yet and he just observes his surroundings. They imitate the actions of those around them.

All the connexions from the brain at the birth, which has one hundred billion neurons, are not yet made; therefore they are waiting for being connected in the new environment. Even though we have an immense responsibility to provide the right environment because the child will trust the environment and he will trust him to do things by himself. The child is an explorer.

He needs to explore the world on a level that he is capable of learning from. The function of the Assistant to Infancy is to put the child in touch with the many aspects of the world around him which will help him classify his impression, build new skills and knowledge.

The world is an exciting place and the entire more so if the child is able to make his own discoveries about it. The Assistant will choose activities which may nurture his interest but be careful to help the child to point the discovery without actually making the discovery for him. That is all about the exploration.

  • Tendency for Order

The human being must have order in his environment to be able to find his way back home after exploring his environment. The child requires from of order whenever he is exploring. This will help him in on many levels- if he wishes to carry out an activity successfully then order is required.

Order and its extension into exactness and precision will help him to gain clear and accurate impressions so that he may understand his world better. External order can help create a logical and orderly mind. We can observe in the small babies their love for order in their surroundings. They cannot practically live in disorder, they are so aware of it, thing which is not happen with the grown-up children. They will expect to find objects where they first perceived them and will go great lengths to put them back if they are ‘out of place’.

  • Tendency for Orientation

Through order we can build our orientation within our surroundings. The child needs some points of reference in the environment to orientate him and find things. And this means he can orient himself in his environment and to act with purpose.

In his book, The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education Mario Montessori states: ‘If the security given by the sense of orientation is removed, it is not that one feels lost in a city, one feels lost in one’s mind. ’ pg 21, AMI pamphlet 1966 For a child, if something is usually placed in a certain spot, he wants to find it there. If the order is taken away, then he becomes disoriented, lost and unable to function properly.

  • Tendency for communication

To communicate is the essence of our civilisation. This is what makes us different then other species. To have the ability to express oneself fully and accurately is a great gift. The more the child is helped in this area the more independent he can be.

The child is able to interact, express thoughts and ideas with people in his environment through language. Prior to developing language, the baby only could communicate by crying which meant the adult had to guess his needs. With language, the child is better clearly able to express his needs and thoughts and become more independent and secure.

  • Tendency for self-esteem

Feeling good about oneself is one of the generally accepted criteria for good mental health. One of things that help children feel good about themselves comes from the fact that they need a lot of support, love and attention from the adults around them.

  • Tendency for work (movement)

Since the child is in process of developing, movement plays a vital part within his life. Even movement for a young child is work. The child creates the movement even before the moment of birth, he starts from his mother’s womb, because he has a strong tendency for the movement. And the tendency for movement keeps the child active. Some of it can be reflexive movement like grasping an object hanging and controlled movement – going here and there.

Being on movement is co-ordinated i. e. where the body and mind working in harmony. At the moment of birth movement is amazing, the hands are very important. In the first few months babies start to develop head and trunk control. When lying on their tummy their hands are in position to help by pushing through the floor surface.

The child then requires activities that are both purposeful and challenging, that will bring real work to his life. The child while engaged upon this type of activity will also be satisfying tendencies towards exactness, repetition, concentration, calculation and imitation while at the same time building a firm base for his creative imagination.

  • Tendency for group orientation

The child knows that we are different from the animals or pets. He shows us that by crying at the beginning. He wants to belong to a group, especially with the closer ones- mother and family.

The child makes sense of relationships and also learns the behaviour of that group i. e. the way they eat, speak, dress and the rules of how that place function i. e. gestures, words. And because he knows and he wants to become like adults around him is now coming the tendency for imitation. The basic skills of children are usually achieved through imitation, which is later modified by the child to suit his own personality and improved upon. For instance gregariousness leads to imitation. Even with adults, the need to conform to the way of life around us so that we are accepted leads to the imitation of the values of that society.

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Human Tendencies, Montessori. (2017, May 07). Retrieved from

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