maria montessori
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The Secret of Childhood


 ”The child is the human being forgotten by society, and even by those who love them, gave them life, and watch over their lives. Aren't children the ones who disturb the activities of adults who are increasingly preoccupied by urgent business? There is no room for children in the more and more narrow homes families crowd into. There is no room for them on the streets, because the number of cars is increasing, and sidewalks are crowded with hurried people. Adults don't have time for them, because they have urgent business, and both the mother and the father leave home. When they can't find work, children have to live in the same miserable conditions as adults. But even in families of good condition, the rich child is exiled in his room, left in the care of a paid stranger, and he is not allowed to enter the rooms reserved to those who gave him birth. There is no place where the child can feel his soul is understood, where he can freely do things. He must always stand still, not touch anything, because nothing is his, everything belongs to the adult: taboo to the child. Where are his things? Until a few tens of years ago, there were no chairs for children*, hence the symbolical words: "I held you on my knees when you were little" or "You've learnt that in your mother's arms."

In fact, when a child touched the parents' furniture, he was scolded, if he sat on the stairs, he was scolded, if he sat on the ground, he was scolded; it was only when an adult found time to take him in his arms that he could sit.
This is the condition of the child living in the adult's world; a nuisance who searches but can't find anything for himself, enters, but is sent away. His condition is similar to that of a man holding no civil right, no own environment, a social outcast that anyone can treat without respect, can slap, punish, and beat, by virtue of a natural right: the adult's right.
Through a mysterious spiritual phenomenon, the adult forgot to prepare an environment for the child; in the social organisation, he forgot about his own son. He, who does countless laws of justice, left his own heir without law, hence, outside the law, without rights, at the mercy of the despotism concealed in every adult's soul.
This is what we can say about the child, about the being that comes into the world bringing fresh powers, who should be the purifying wind blowing from a generation to another and shedding the asphyxiating miasma, brought by a wrong human life.” 
”The Secret of Childhood” – Maria Montessori (1936) – ”Tiparul Universitar” Publishing House, Bucharest, 1938

*The author speaks about the period between 1900 and 1915.