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Intrinsic Motivation, Limitations and Freedom


Once a child has experienced the joy of learning independently, they naturally want to experience that feeling again. This is because the experience is need-fulfilling. Learning meets the need for fun, self-respect and being part of a community. The prepared environment is planned in such a way as to meet the needs of students provided the directress has a clear understanding of the limitations of what Montessori called “liberty in practice”.

These limitations include

  1. The collective interest is a priority–courtesy and respectful behavior must be the goal in which to aspire in the classroom.

  2. That knowledge must precede choice – a child must understand each part of the concept being taught in order to begin to practice work. Learning a concept is a series of experiences that allow for a child to gain mastery. Having clear comprehension of expectations and criteria are essential elements of being able to exercise free choice.

  3. The correct use of material – each material has a precisely determined use which aids in the student’s development. We refer to this as autodidactic aims. In order to acquire the knowledge, the student first requires understanding of the correct use of the material.

  4. The quality of materials – only materials that fulfill the criteria (see below) are to be displayed and used in the classroom.


From these limitations are derived the following freedoms:

  1. To allow individuality – This strengthens the child’s self-esteem and allows the directress to take the students’ abilities into account and to be better able to respond to their needs.

  2. To be disciplined – The greater the self-discipline developed in the students, the greater freedom they have to exercise independence.

  3. The freedom to be able to work at one’s own pace.

  4. The freedom to cultivate will.

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