Back in the days of my Montessori training course, my trainer (an amazing psychologist who had trained under humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers) recommended a book called Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce. I jotted down her recommendation and promptly forgot about it. Flash-forward to a few weeks ago, when I saw it advertised on someone’s blog and checked it out of the library.
Oh. My. Goodness. If you read one book about children this year, let it be this one. (I’m trying to cut down on my book-buying addiction, but this one was a must-have.)
Some delightful tidbits in anticipation of a book review…
“The mind-brain is designed for astonishing capacities, but its development is based on the infant and child constructing a knowledge of the world as it actually is. Children are unable to construct this foundation because we unknowingly inflict on them an anxiety-conditioned view of the world (as it was unknowingly inflicted on us). Childhood is a battleground between the biological plan’s intent, which drives the child from within, and our anxious intentions, pressing the child from without.”
“The brain achieves its clarity of operations only through interacting with or moving into physical touch with the living earth itself… To the extent the newborn is allowed interaction with the earth, to that extent the brain clarifies its own portion of the picture.”
“In our anxieties, we fail to allow the child a continual interaction with the phenomena of this earth on a full-dimensional level (which means with all five of his/her body senses); and at the same time, we rush the child into contact with phenomena not appropriate to his/her stage of biological development.”
“Just as baby teeth come before giant twelve-year molars, so all the ramifications of concrete thought and experience must mature before abstract thought and experience can unfold. We can force certain forms of abstraction prematurely on the child in his/her concrete stage of development, but the effects are specifically damaging (even though the damage will not be detectable for several years).”
All of these ideas (and many others in the book) were stated by Maria Montessori in her work at the beginning of the 20th century. Pearce’s book, written in 1977, echoes Montessori’s viewpoints without once mentioning her. She would be pleased, however, since she always said: “I keep pointing at the child; they keep looking at my finger”. Pearce’s book does just what she wanted, it looks at the “modern child” (who in many respects hasn’t changed at all) and gives us a road map to guide his potential.
Powerful reading, worthy of your time and essential for your child’s healthy development… I hope you agree (and stay tuned for the book review)!