Maria Montessori’s Four Planes of Development
A holistic vision of the human being
Maria Montessori outlined four planes of development that are consecutive stages of life, ranging from infancy to adulthood, based on her scientific observations. These planes are distinct from each other, as each of them corresponds to different types of psyches and minds, and coincides with the different stages of physical development of the human being.
Psychologists even say that “development is a series of births”. In fact, at a certain period of life, an individual’s psyche stops and another one is born (Absorbent Mind, Montessori p.16).
The different planes are each characterized by the way children learn in that plane. They build on the accomplishments reached in the previous plane, while preparing the child for the next one. The timing and transition of each plane varies from individual to individual. Each plane span is approximately six years.
The planes of development represent a holistic vision of the human being because they consider all aspects of a child’s development —intellectual, social, spiritual, moral and emotional. The Montessori education encourages the development of the whole children, supporting the development of their personalities and the fulfillment of their fullest potential.
A child enters the world with the potential to be anyone they want to be. There are unlimited possibilities and opportunities. We can only help the child in the challenging task of building a personality. We can not predict what the full potential of the child will be. Being part of the process is certainly no easy task.
A traditional educational approach views the process of development as linear. In other words, it is assumed that the child learns more and more each year until she has learned all that there is to learn. Dr. Montessori had a different vision of education development. She held that learning occurs in cycles, and is not a linear process. There are ups and downs in the process, as seen in the chart below.
Looking at the planes, you can see the age of the child, represented by a horizontal line. The lines of progression and retrogression are formed by triangles. Montessori believed that initial development could be quite intense at the beginning of a plane, and then decreases as it reaches the next plane so as to begin preparation for the new stage of development.
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