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The Absorbent Mind

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  949 ratings  ·  63 reviews
In response to the crisis in American education, more than five thousand public and private schools across the nation have adopted the timeless Montessori Method of teaching, of which this book is the cornerstone. Written by the women whose name is synonymous worldwide with child development theory, The Absorbent Mind takes its title from the phrase that the inspired Itali ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 15th 1995 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1949)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 16, 2009 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents and teachers especially
Excellent book. Maria Montessori's insight and genius astounds me to no end. This is my second favorite of the books I've read of hers (for adult readers) so far, after "The Secret of Childhood." I do not feel up to writing much of a review beyond that, however, so I will jump straight to my favorite quotes, which hopefully will speak for the book more than well enough themselves:

“...the child becomes a great walker and has the need to go for very long walks. Usually, we either carry him or put
Written from India after the Second World War there is a change in Dr Montessori's view of human nature. She is less optimistic of the goodness of man and works instead for a peaceful education. She believed, and was likely correct, that if we are to end man's destruction of man, then we need an educational philosophy based on cooperation rather than competition.
Kim Harrison
Maria Montessori was a revolutionary educational philosopher. This book, a collection of speeches made in India in the 1940's, is the last in which she expounds upon the pedagogical methodology and philosophy that she introduced to the world in her seminal book, The Montessori Method. In The Absorbent Mind, with missionary zeal, she espouses ideas that are firmly rooted in Enlightenment Era thinking as well as the emerging sciences of psychology and embryology. Borrowing heavily from Rousseau, H ...more
This book has been loaned out AGAIN. A friend from North Carolina just returned the book: Teaching Montessori in the Home by Hainstock; a good book; but I like the feel of reading Maria Montessori. Quoting from The Absorbent Mind:" ...Instead, the child undergoes a transformation. Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it. They incarnate themselves into him. The child creates his own 'mental muscles,' using for this what he finds in the world about him. We have named this type of me ...more
Katie Wilkie
Montessori says that the traditional teaching and learning setting "supplies men with crutches when they could run on swift feet. It is an education based on man's lower powers, not his higher ones." Her philosophy advocates for modeling learning for students, and then stepping out of the way when they have found something they want to learn and concentrate on. She writes about how students, when given their independence, will learn and achieve far beyond what we think them capable. Really great ...more
I like the premise behind the book but it was hard for me to read - like pulling myself through mud. Great philosophy, brilliant woman, but not pleasure reading . . . don't attempt to read if you're tired!
A fascinating window into the minds of children. Montessori was a genius. I cant help but think our schools would be in a lot better shape if we would've gotten on board with her 100 years ago!
Nohemi Lugo
Wonderful book, a must for every new parent!
As the happy product of a Montessori education and the parent of a new baby myself, I was interested in Montessori's own words on her educational approach. I'm glad I made the effort to get through the book, because the most interesting and relevant chapters (for what I wanted to learn about) were the last 10 or so. The book is weighted down by the pseudo-science in the first few chapters, which tries very hard to establish some basic comparisons with child development and cell development/embry ...more
I like this translation, it seems more readable.

After rereading this book, I was amazed how much new information I found.

I did not realize Montessori supported prolonged breastfeeding and babywearing and natural childbirth:

pg. 68 on newborn's experiencing fear: "When, in the first hours of life, they are dipped rapidly into a bath..."
protective instinct of the mother to press her child to her bosom to protect from light
pg. 69 "The human mother's protective instincts is not so strong [as animals
I have been told that this is a primary text for Montessori certification. At least at one program.

There were some really wonderful bits, but overall I did not enjoy it as much as The Montessori Method.

In this book there are several comparisons of humans and animals. I think that viewpoint might have been in vogue at the time the book was written, but I found it strange. I also found strange that there are frequent Biblical quotations. While I appreciate Dr Montessori's sometimes heady flights
Margaret Cortona
I'm embarrassed that I'm just now reading this book cover to cover. I acquiesce some bias, but I believe it to be one of the most important books of all time.

p. 219: "The greatest danger lies in our ignorance. We know how to find pearls in the shells of oysters, gold in the mountains and coal in the bowels of the earth, but we are unaware of the creative nebulae that the child hides in himself when he enters our world to renew mankind."


"If salvation is to come, it will come from the children,
Apr 26, 2009 Lisa is currently reading it
This was recommended to me many times by Yon's aunt (even when I was pregnant, and I am finally reading it now - 2 years later), and so far is very interesting, and I've just had a hard time getting through some of the scientific explanations of how DNA and everything works. I am just tired and start to zone out, and I can't wait to get to the parts that actually apply to how I can be a great mom and teacher, and for the parts that might give advice on what are good things to do with children an ...more
Sharina SM
Absolutely brilliant! It's amazing to know how there are unconscious learnings that shape your life and make you who you are. Again goes to show how fragile and important childhood is.
Deborah Duke
The Montessori Method has always seemed a bit mysterious to me so I wanted to go back to its origin. Maria Montessori was clearly a very talented woman, and I really enjoyed reading her perspective. I don't agree with everything, but there is still much that can be applied to education today. My favorite concept is that true freedom of choice occurs only within a framework of discipline and order.

A note to prospective readers: Much of this book is concerned with the child from birth to age six.
Deborah Byfield Nyberg
Montessori's observations and studies of child development are fascinating and inspirational!
I'm blaming the translation for this one; it was a free Kindle book, so I doubt very highly that the translation was any good, leaving me with clunky and weird sentences and struggling through with less-than-optimum levels of real comprehension of what Montessori was trying to say. Anyway, it wasn't horrible or anything, and I love the ideas presented herein.
This book focused more on the science behind the theory of Montessori. It was a little harder to get through this book because it was so heavy in science details and I found myself having to go back a little bit in the book every time I picked it up. However, it was extremely interesting! I would highly recommend this to my friends who are curious about reasons for why Maria Montessori created her method and have an interest or passion in biology or psychology.
Montessori understands a lot about humans, especially compared to many other humans who write books about small humans. I really like her ideas of having children engaged in play that is doing what their parents do in little size. That is what Abner (my little boy) really wants. The only reason he is really interested at all in his own toys is that we (the adults) sometimes play with them.
I love the Montessori method and all that it tried to accomplish. However, I found myself disagreeing with some of her arguments on a young child's mind and how once absorbed it can not be changed.

I loved the last several chapters. For those just getting into Montessori and hate biology and socialogy I would recommend skipping the first half of the book.
Feb 01, 2008 Lynde rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents of school-aged kids
thought provoking. most things i disagreed with, until my son started in a montessori school...then i realized that maybe she knew what she was talking about. there is something to say about experience. of course there are some disagreeable things. i still have a difficult time not allowing any "fantasy", but i have figured a way to work with this.
We forget that imagination is a force for the discovery if truth. 177

. . . There is one thing the teacher must never do and that is, to interfere by praising a child's work, or punishing him if it is wrong, or even by correcting his mistakes . . . If a child has to be rewarded or punished, it means he lacks the capacity to guide himself. 245

The vein of gold appeared halfway through, and the rest was an embarrassing wealth of riches. Educational philosophy at its finest.
This book was absolutely beautiful. It should be required reading for all parents so they can remember how precious children are and what great potential they have, even (and especially) when those children are still young. It is about educating with love and respect for what nature has endowed all children with.
Christine Turner
"The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work. She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be."

Maria Montessori "The Absorbent Mind," 1984: p. 270
I agreed with a lot of the theory presented here - that's sort of a given since I have my child in a Montessori kindergarten. My only beef is that I feel as if she is a little too dismissive on early childhood creativity, but other than that enjoyed this.
Lauren Mahoney
a wonderful book in gaining insight into the minds of young children. i would recommend this for montessori educators and traditional educators alike. also, a great read for parents...not that i know anything about being a parent, but you get my point!
I thought this book gave a great overview of the Montessori philosophy of education. An approach that I find highly successful. I have read many books about Montessori and this was the best. I suppose the author being Maria Montessori helped LOL.
I love this book and what it could mean to the lives of so many children (and adults) if everyone were to read it. It has changed my perspective on teaching, and my perspective on parenting. It has also changed how I view the world.
I know I will read this book again and again, and like a friend (teacher) said in her evaluation of this book; It is the bible of education. Worth reading and studying for anyone passionate about child development and teaching!
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Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher, humanitarian and devout Catholic; she is best known for her philosophy and the Montessori method of education of children from birth to adolescence. Her educational method is in use today in a number of public as well as private schools throughout the world.
More about Maria Montessori...
The Secret of Childhood The Montessori Method Discovery of the Child Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook Education And Peace (Clio Montessori)

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“Great tact and delicacy is necessary for the care of the mind of a child from three to six years, and an adult can have very little of it.” 4 likes
“If salvation and help are to come, it is through the child ; for the child is the constructor of man.” 3 likes
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