Dr. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person; he must do it himself or it will never be done. She, therefore, felt that the goal of the educational process should not be to fill the child with facts, but rather to cultivate his own natural desire to learn. Children between the ages of two and six can pick up knowledge and understanding effortlessly, spontaneously, and joyfully. Dr. Montessori called the child’s mind at this stage “absorbent” and compared its soaking in knowledge to a sponge’s soaking in water. She also discovered that during these years there are sensitive periods when a child shows unusual ability to acquire particular skills and it is actually easier for him to learn those skills than at any other time in his life.
Feeling that there is an important correlation between muscular activity and learning, she incorporated movement into the use of the equipment, particularly constant use of the hands. Error-control factors were included that indicate a child’s mistake to him without his having to be told.
Last, of all, Dr. Montessori concluded that freedom is a goal, not a starting point and that educators have a responsibility to train children’s characters to achieve self-discipline and self-direction. These result from the mastery of meaningful firsthand experience and fulfilling the urge to expand and grow in one’s own way without jeopardizing the rights of others to have this same privilege.