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Human Tendencies

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Maria Montessori characterised human tendencies as natural expressions of our species, shaped by evolution to meet basic survival needs such as nourishment, shelter, clothing, and mobility. She noted that these tendencies become evident when children engage deeply in a thoughtfully prepared space.

There exist innate human traits that encourage the natural progression of all individuals. Awareness and comprehension of these traits can guide parents in shaping home environments to support their children's growth. Children who grow up in environments that nurture these human traits are typically secure, healthy, and content, embracing life and interests with little reservation and much energy. These characteristics appear as influenced by our life situations, social structures, cultural norms, religious beliefs, and educational systems.

Maria Montessori identified 11 fundamental human tendencies that guide our interactions with the world. These are:

Exploration: Humans are innately curious, with a drive to explore, learn, and improve both materially and spiritually. Children, our most keen explorers, require the freedom to experience as much of their environment as possible.

Activity: This is the drive to be active, to move, to work, and particularly to engage with the world through hands-on experiences. Movement is a form of learning and growth, and children especially need the freedom to be active and engage with their environment.

Orientation: People have an internal desire to understand their place in the world and their environment. Children require the freedom and information to orient themselves without excessive guidance.

Order: An innate need for order helps us to understand and navigate our environment. Adults should ensure children have an organised environment where everything has a place, providing predictability and stability.

Manipulation: There is a natural inclination to manipulate one’s environment as a way to exert control and make connections between thoughts and actions. Children must be given opportunities to touch, manipulate, and experience the world around them.

Abstraction: The ability to think abstractly and to learn from real experiences is a distinct human trait. Children need sufficient concrete experiences to develop this ability, which adults can encourage through sensory materials that convey abstract concepts.

Precision: Precision is the desire for accuracy that emerges from the survival need for predictability and safety. Children naturally seek to repeat actions to gain precision, and adults should encourage this by allowing them access to the correct techniques.

Repetition: Humans tend to repeat actions to achieve mastery and understanding. Children, in particular, will engage in repetitive activities to improve their skills, and adults should provide them with opportunities to practice freely.

Work: This tendency contains the desire to transform ideas into reality. It is closely linked to activity and manipulation. Children should be given the freedom to work independently at their own pace, as their work is part of their self-construction.

Communication: The need to understand and be understood is universal. From infancy, exposure to language is crucial, and adults should provide many opportunities for children to engage with language through speaking, writing, and reading.

Self-preservation: This is the drive to improve oneself and fulfil basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety. Adults play a role in helping children learn self-regulation and adaptation through their environment.

These tendencies serve as a blueprint for human behaviour and development,