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Montessori

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Under Construction I am not very organized or methodical in my reading. Web pages seem like a good way to keep track of the various threads I'm pursuing so I can find my way back to the main one--I'm trying to understand the context in which Montessori worked, so I can better understand what she wrote and where she got her ideas. To keep track of my reading, I write down quotes I find interesting and add thoughts in brackets as they occur to me. My goal is to one day have more notes than quotes on these pages, and maybe even develop something coherent and interesting. Until then, the "under construction" icon will remain as a warning for those who might mistakenly think there's something readable on these pages.

Racism

"...Spencer was not a racist in the sense that he believed in the invariable superiority of one race over another. But his evolutionary concept of 'survival of the fittest' was an idea that supported the racist arguments of others, who then claimed a debt to Spencer's work. For Spencer, the evolutionary point was actually that 'Every age, every nation, every climate, exhibits a modified form of humanity,' and to mix these differences together would be a mistake because 'All evil results from the non-adaptation of constitution to conditions' (1898:7-8)." (Adams, B. N., & Sydie, R. A., 2001, p. 79)

[Add notes from Gould's study of anthropometry in "The Mismeasure of Man", contradictory ideas about race in Theosophy. On the one hand, the First Object of the Theosophical Society was stated by founder Blavatsky as follows: "To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, colour, or creed." On the other, Jews and Arabs were considered "later Aryans — degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophical_Society) Idea of Indians as Aryans, New Education Fellowship and UNESCO. Kramer (p. 341) suggests Montessori met Annie Besant some time after the first Children's House opened. Foschi has her joining the Theosophical Society on May 23, 1899. (p. 241). Secret societies in Italy-Carbonari's role in unification, Masons at University of Rome when Montessori was a student. Theosophical Society accepted women.]

In 1950, UNESCO published The Race Question, a statement that officially withdrew scientific support for racism. By 1950, Montessori, an early UNESCO delegate, had also changed her ideas about race and had long ago abandoned research tools associated with "scientific racism" such as anthropometry.

"...We are spectators of this tendency: a fusion or intermixture of characteristics that is tending to establish one single human type, which is no longer an original racial type, but the type of civilization. It is the unique race, the resultant human race, the product of the fusion of races and the triumph of all the elements of beauty over the disappearance of those ugly forms where were the characteristic of primitive races." (Montessori, 1913, p. 468).

"...We are witnessing the coming of the unique man, the man of perfect beauty, such as Phidias visioned in a paroxysm of aesthetic emotion."

"A living man who incarnates supreme beauty, supreme health, supreme strength: almost as though it were Christ himself whom humanity was striving to emulate, through a most intimate brotherhood of all the peoples on earth." (Montessori, 1913, p. 469).

"When we think of the brilliant concept of the medial man, we behold a fundamental and profound principle: the necessity of hybridism and consequently a profound intermixture of races; all of which goes side by side with the spread of civilization, and the increased facilities of traveling and communication between different communities. Connected with these material advantages is the moral progress which leads to a realization of perfect brotherhood between men that is rendered steadily more possible by environment, and is sanctioned little by little by laws and and customs; whereas at the start it was only an ethical or mystical theory." (Montessori, 1913, p. 470)

[Montessori writes about "brotherhood between men" and inferiority of "primitive races" in the same text in a way that is reminiscent of Theosophy]

"While the physical formations of the races are becoming merged, the racial customs are also blending and disappearing in a single civilization, in one sole form of thought."

"When we contemplate the morphologically medial man, he seems to stand as a symbol of unlimited universal progress. His realization seems to demand very lofty standards of morality and civilization." (Montessori, 1913, p. 471)

"As for the innumerable paracentral errors which form today a large proportion of individual varieties, they are due directly to the imperfection of the environment, which does not permit of the natural development of human life, and consequently interferes through a wide range of methods and degrees with the development of ideal normality." (Montessori, 1913, p. 471)

"All the paracentral errors and malformations are a physical burden which retards the perfectionment of man. Admitting that hybridism will eventually result in complete beauty, it will be greatly delayed in its attainment through the accumulation of errors that surround the characteristics of race." (Montessori, 1913, p. 471)

"There are, in general, two influences developing and promoting that improvement with leads toward the medial man; in proportion as the real and practical intermarriage of races approaches its realization, social errors diminish; and as the brotherhood of humanity is promoted, it leads to social reforms by which the "sins of the world" are little by little overcome." (Montessori, 1913, p. 472)