Thursday, June 12, 2014

Understanding "The Four Planes of Development" Illustration by M. Montessori

Image: Des Peres Montessori
The Four Planes provide a holistic vision of the psychological, mental, and physical need at each level of development. The child moves in discreet phases rather than a continuous stream of development, much like the instars of the butterfly.

Maria Montessori first published this schema in Rome in 1950, two years before her death, as a consummate vision of development. In the image above, each of these triangles represents the constructive rhythm of life, the fundamental development of life. The first and the third-- infancy and adolescence-- are the two highly creative portions of life; the second and the fourth-- childhood and maturity-- are phases primarily of development and consolidation, or crystallization, of that highly creative time period. Another way of listing infancy, childhood, adolescence, and maturity might be restated as the creation of the individual, the development of the individual, the creation of the social being, and the development of the social being, all in a pattern of organic development.

Similarly, her illustration of The Bulb Chart as another representation of development, 1951, modeled the progression from the creche to preschool (Froebel), elementary school (Pestalozzi), high school (Herbert) and ultimately university (underwritten, "civilization"). In her illustration, the large black bulb is infancy to age 3, turning red with knowledge and formation, then green onto the stem of the bulb at age 6. At age six, she writes "The Development of Man" to age 12. There is a second swell in the bulb, red for the creative energy of adolescence associated with puberty. The stem continues green endlessly, arriving at the word, "Man".

Jeannot Jonte Boucher is a Montessori educator and parent in Dallas, Texas. 

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