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The Human Tendencies

By:  Dave Kosky, Lower Elementary Director

Humans were given the gifts of intelligence, love, reason and will. We have the power to modify and adapt to any environment based on our needs. Human beings evolved in a unique way and are endowed with intelligence, instincts and movement. There were three elementary needs to keep us alive: food, shelter and clothing. Our early ancestors found a means to sustain these basic needs on the first day of their existence. The ability to satisfy the need for food occurred because s/he looked, found and experimented with that which was necessary to stay alive.

Dr. Maria Montessori determined that there are human tendencies that exist in each individual which stimulate her/him within the society. Human tendencies are unchanging and individual. They help humans to survive and adapt in a particular time and environment.

The Human Tendencies are:

  1. Order:  The tendency for order helps in the understanding of one’s surroundings. For a child it means s/he has the need for predictable events in her/his life; for example, an ordered environment where everything has a certain place. As educators, we provide an ordered environment with things in a well-defined place.
  2. Orientation:  This tendency is the ability to orient oneself in new situations. For a child it means that s/he needs to know where and how s/he fits into a particular time or environment and how to adapt. As educators, we must give the child the freedom and the information necessary to his/her orientation without too much guidance.
  3. Exploration:  This tendency is the curiosity leading to explore and the desire to understand. It renders living better materially and spiritually. We are all potential explorers with a tremendous desire to learn, research, read and travel. As educators, we can easily see that children are the best explorers and they must have the freedom to explore as rich an environment as possible.
  4. Communication: This tendency is the ability for living beings to understand each other as well as to be understood. This takes the three forms of speaking, writing and reading. As educators, freedom of speech, listening, and story telling help enable speaking. Research and creative writing help to develop writing. Reading by the child is nurtured through reading to the child by the adult, as well as preparatory exercises in the classroom.
  5. Activity: It is the ability to move which involves both the mind and body. A child is restless and needs constant activity which seems purposeless to the adult. As educators, we must give the child the freedom to move around.
  6. Manipulation: It is the tendency to touch and to handle on’s surroundings to give control over an activity. A child has the need to touch, feel and to experience the physical world. As educators, we must give the child this experience through Montessori materials in language, math and science.
  7. Work: The tendency to work is related to the tendencies of activity and manipulation. It is the ability to put into reality what the imagination suggests. It enables independence and dignity as well as a feeling of rest. As educators, we realize the child’s need for his/her self-construction and we must therefore never judge or stop a child’s work, realizing that his/her goals are different than ours. We must also give the child the freedom to work at her/his own pace in a stimulating and appropriate environment.
  8. Repetition:  This tendency is the ability to do over and over again an exercise in order to reach perfection and to experience the joy of increased control and understanding of one’s world. When a child is not satisfied with her/his performance in one activity or does not get any joy from it, s/he will repeat the same exercise several times. As educators, we must provide materials that are easily accessible and allowable to be used over and over again.
  9. Exactness:  It is the desire to be precise and constant so that things are objective. It is a necessary tendency to survive (to maintain stability and prevent accidents). As educators, we give the child the freedom to repeat an activity until it reaches a point of exactness. He/she is shown exactly how to properly use the materials.
  10. Abstraction: It is the ability to reason beyond the limits of the concrete as well as to generalize and interpret. This tendency will not develop in a child unless s/he has had enough concrete experience. As educators, we must allow concrete experiences through the materials in order for these to provide a solid understanding of the concepts intended.
  11. Self-perfection:  It is the development of the person to a point that is satisfying to the person himself. As educators, it is the aim of the Montessori teacher to teach the children so that they can control themselves and this is done through the environment itself.

Spend time noticing these tendencies in your child as well as yourself!

Ruffing Montessori School   |   3380 Fairmount Blvd Cleveland Heights, OH 44118   |   Phone: (216) 321-7571   |   Hours 8am-4pm M-F   |   After Hours Phone (216) 321-0913