10 Innate Traits

The Significance of  Innate Traits in THE MONTESSORI METHOD

Animals use their instincts to ensure survival.  Humans have similar essential in -born traits that work on behalf of our survival.The innate traits observed in preschool children by Maria Montessori combine to bring about problem solving ability required for both out witting threats to our life and to what would decrease the maximum enjoyment of it.

People are designed to develop their latent potential though these traits. Education should be a means to learn how to become all that we are capable of being from our infantile ineptitude and beyond to our greatest unknowable ability and accomplishment.

Our ultimate survival as a species may depend on all of us being able to develop our greatest potential …to one day value each other enough to refrain from the threat of war as a solution to national dispute. For a generation the existential threat to the human race through atomic annihilation is the reason Montessori declared “peace must be the work of education”

Let us recognize ten innate traits and to comprehend their significance in education in past and for future human survival. If they are not commonly suppressed in schools, we might trade the resultant current student boredom for the promise of joy and enthusiasm experienced daily through the naturally higher standard of human creative intelligence.

CURIOSITY and the urge to DISCOVER

Throughout our history we  instinctively continuously searched for better conditions by seeking unknown and untried paths to pursue more desirable results. Yet our curiosity and urge to discover is sealed throughout our developmental years.The result Is that this critical trait is dulled into a faint memory of being called a terrible two! Imagine what would have become of our countless exploring ancestors had they been forced into rows of chairs and rewarded with tribal prestige for memorizing only the known information of the time! It took the most rebellious, smartest and sometimes most greedy to over come the barren scholastic opportunity for individual inquiry.

MONTESSORI  must provide for both the inquisitive mind and the natural physical movement required to investigate. It must offer organized methods to accomplish complex results to difficult questions. This trait must not be routinely suffocated by its burial in the standard assumption that empty student vessels must submissively wait their fill from the master. It needs plenty of opportunity for exploratory probing and scribbling exercise as a basis for inquiry into each discipline. The questions of how, what if ,why or why not must be made into permanent trustworthy tools of the cub learner for life.


CRAVES INDEPENDENCE and SELF RELIANCE, requires courage, doing something for the first time.

What if our forefathers had not sought out changes to suit a new way of governing that was based in personal initiative instead of a slavish adherence to a hierarchical command structure? Throughout evolution, the lonely man sought his truth as he realized his unique response to common cultural experience. This trait should not be suppressed under a tyranny of state standards that would limit individual initiative before it is even a thought! Children must try out their judgement through successive trials to develop their own sense of empowerment. Otherwise the child is competent just because another has claimed them to be. The reliance on the other has then subjugated the self, never to allow it again to determine its own esteem.

MONTESSORI must provide students opportunities to be  resourceful and inventive. Education can no longer arrange students on a bell curve coercing only one standard of excellence while ignoring the plethora of untapped potential possibilities. Children will not be compared to each other. Some students will be outstanding in a given area as is the nature of talent. They will be truly admired without the need of others to feel they must be the same to be as valued.


Imagine the toddler being given gold stars to induce him to learn to talk. or instructed in group lessons on how to walk!  History reveals our natural intense preoccupation with making our desired lot as much as our personal resources can muster without being coerced. However, if as children we are conditioned to believe  we ought to  learn at a standard  pace dictated by the state, then the self motivated reason to self perfect is erased by default.

MONTESSORI does not corrupt natural motivation by offering extrinsic rewards. Instead, the child is offered chances to practice skills until  he is enabled to handle the next level of challenge. This trait has been exploited in the drill and kill practices of traditional education because practice is a sine qua non in all learning behavior. Yet without the self motivation to perfect as the origin of the desire for repetition the trait atrophies into the dulled acquiescence characteristic of the performance of meaningless work.


There is a natural trait to discover patterns in order to explain unseen events or predict those of the future. We have used this trait to obtain the power to strategize and prepare for possible calamity under probable conditions not yet manifest.

Humans created the basis for the scientific method and mathematics. Utilizing  only formula and facts arrest this power. Chances to use and test logical systems to create a designated outcome has brought mankind into civilization. Taking away from our schooling the many arts that fostered this trait meant that ingenuity decreased as the need to measure learned behavior increased.

MONTESSORI will seek to teach though critical thinking using inductive evidence- based reasoning while minimizing reliance on memorization to mostly required essential information. If information is given to students with only the expectation that it be  memorized and catalogued for competitive testing purposes, then this un exercised trait will morph into the slovenly and disorderly habits characteristic of a despondent and unfulfilled human life. The legendary destructive nature of young graduates points to a need to reinstate self searches for meaningful relevance in educational pursuit.


We remember the persistence of Columbus, and notice the tenacity of the pilgrims and the violence endured on the marches of the long suffering civil rights movement and realize that our historical progress has always relied on this human  trait.

If instead, education has been depersonalized, and taught on a standard timetable, it will not produce an animated joyful student brimming with the frustration of too many ideas to chase all at once!

IN MONTESSORI, If individual goals have remained personal, because the self- motivation has not been reduced in an authoritarian command structure, and the educative value has been offered as exploratory, and independently gained through self-pace, then the student can be expected to perform as a self- driven perfectionist workaholic on a  pursuit of a chosen path. Human survival seems  assured when kids develop a relentless “Do or Die” attitude towards their personally meaningful tasks!


Historically, since the dawn of civilization, mankind sought meaning in enriching the senses to increase the spiritual value of a place, person or object. Each of the senses is a starting gate for exploration into the increasing awareness of  knowledge gained as an experiential response. When the appreciated experience is shared human aesthetics can fill all our spiritual cups. An extremely luxurious provision in an aesthetic environment such as a natural setting would increase the responsiveness in this trait . If a prison model is used instead, It may mean that the cultural or personal choices will be challenged . Decoration can be busily garish or  stereotypically redundant. Even though his personal handprint is used in rows on the wall the effect is that the individual appears rubber stamped.

In MONTESSORI, the environment, the materials, and the people all give tribute to the essential need for us to be aesthetically responsive. Our classrooms are prepared environments that include aesthetics of serenity such as quiet,order and cleanliness. The simple design of the materials and the inviting spaces strategically call to the child to engage in the purpose of its teaching intent. Ornamentation is spare to increase its value of its uniqueness.


We need to belong to a clan, an idea, or a school that helps direct our conceptual thinking. This trait could  be harmful if we have not had the experience of practiced critical thinking inherent in trait 4 . It is a good trait if our clan or idea considers the good of the whole community, -which seems necessary for it to be a survival trait. The perceived global good is at the heart of education -now that mutual assured destruction (mad) has been a factual possibility of war  hanging over us like a sword of Damocles. However, the laws of nature and of  “Nature’s God” are equally compelling and offers much to delight the tenderfoot.

MONTESSORI provides for the  support that individual worth is an intrinsic assumption replacing the traditional notion that individual value is won though competition. Respect for self  and others comes through daily practice of a clear differentiation between what is an individual need versus a community need. The individual will sacrifice for the intrinsic community need with the understanding that the community will not demand from the individual more than this.

The individual interests and pace make Montessori ideal for diverse needs within one community. Thus Montessori is an ideal crucible for world peace, a higher authority for educational reform.


An original evolutionary decision to selectively eat  sweet foods as an indicator of non-poisonous fare can presently actually be detrimental to our health if not adapted to more sophisticated knowledge of dietary needs. Similarly there is a need for an enlightened constructive change from the  earlier educational uses born in the Industrial Age.  Now we  must take into account both the dangers of the atomic age and the survival inherent  within the human ability explosion possible in the Information Age. A more progressive education would be based in promoting the critical thinking inherent in adaptive and constructive reasoning power.

MONTESSORI  can promise needed change in one generation since it can begin to guide learning in preschool using the natural traits to maximum effect.The problem is to teach teachers to teach in a way they themselves were not taught. We can reawaken our adaptive trait to construct new ways to teach children to use their natural traits.


Any child anywhere in time or country will absorb every bit of their cultural effect. We are born to a second embryo which is designed with the capability to equip us to render prototypical  knowledge we need to survive and enjoy the surroundings into which we are born. A baby abandoned by  a primitive tribe in the Amazon was brought up as a NewYorker with no distinction to natives of the Big Apple in any noticeable way. However the foundling as an adult would not be able to survive the jungle into which she had been born. Any cultural matter needed to be changed in any society in time anywhere could be accomplished by one generation if the master culture had a way to change itself first into what it desired to be copied.

MONTESSORI  endeavors to bring to the preschool child the best of the culture to absorb fully the values it wishes to see in the adult. If we want to see peace in our world then we must consider the conditions that promote peace  and offer only those to the child.Then those conditions would be absorbed automatically as commonplace.Now, instead, violence  is even  portrayed in children’s cartoons.We must be  aware of the indelible impact each word and deed has on the growth of our heirs.

CREATIVITY is the inevitable result when all the natural traits are used simultaneously

It will always reflect the most meaningful impact of a child’s culture. It will always be a new adaptation of a former concept. A higher authority will be the inspiration. An aesthetic must be the conveyor of sharing to be appreciated. There will inevitably be a maximum of effort born with much agreed upon sacrifice. There will be an underlying order in the fabric of what is created. Every creation begs to be the perfect portrayal of the intension necessitating much repetition and self-pace to bring it forth. Independence and self reliance are co founders of creations that are not reproductions. Curiosity and the Urge to discover bring the questions Creativity attempts to answer. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Aristotle)

MONTESSORI has the development of each innate trait as its sine qua non of education. It finds unique expression within any one of the arts or the academic disciplines. It must be free from extrinsic dictation apart from the teachable professional skills required to bring it to excellence. This brings the new possibilities to the human adventure to evolve.

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