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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
What must never be forgotten by the Montessori teacher, or by any teacher of young children, is that his or her "primary" task, his or her "primary" obligation, his or her "primary" sacred duty is not the teaching of the "three Rs" but that of nurturing the psychological health of the child. Every element of Montessori methodology is designed for the care of the soul, which for Maria Montessori begins from the moment of birth. It is in the nature of the human being to strive toward self-actualization: toward a healthy psyche, toward psychological serenity, toward personal fulfillment. This is the new vision and understanding of man that Abraham Maslow and the third-force psychologists gave people. It becomes derailed when basic needs are not fulfilled. Even for those who are fortunate to have their needs fulfilled, it is still always a work in progress. Human psychological health is difficult to measure exactly. Being "self-actualized" is an ideal state, perhaps unattainable, like any other ideal state. Certainly self-actualizing individuals are not saints and have imperfections, as do all human beings. But what is most important for teachers and parents of young children is their duty to foster self-actualization. Maslow and Montessori both understood that the totality of a child's environment, meaning things visible and invisible, concrete and abstract, must offer the raw materials for fulfilling needs. The child will spontaneously absorb those raw materials for his or her unique growth. Collectively, through self-actualized children, society will follow, because these children "have led loving lives, have loved and been loved. Furthermore, they are "now" loving people."