In Her Words
Excerpts from The Advanced Montessori Method II, formerly entitled The Montessori Elementary Material, first published in 1916. In her two volume work, Dr. Montessori sought to explicate the approach she brought to the older, elementary age children. In these excerpts, she addresses the development of reading in the context of a connection to other people and society.
“Our first publication on the methods used in the “Children’s House” made clear two distinct operations involved in reading: the interpretation of the meaning and the pronunciation aloud of the “word.” The stress we laid on that analysis as a guide to the development of reading was the result of actual experience. Those who followed this work during its initial stages saw how the children, when they read for the first time, interpreting the meaning of the words before them, did so without speaking,-reading, that is, mentally. Interpretation, in fact, is a question of mental concentration. Reading is an affair of the intelligence. The pronunciation aloud is quite a different thing, not only distinguished from the first process,but secondary to it. Talking aloud is a question of speech, involving first hearing and then the mechanical reproduction of sounds in articulate language. Its function is to bring into immediate communication two people, who thus exchange the thoughts which they have already perfected in the secret places of their minds.
But reading stands in direct relation with writing. Here there are no sounds to be heard or pronounced. The individual, all by himself, can put himself into communication not only with human beings actually alive on the earth, but also with those who lived centuries and centuries ago down to the dawn of history. Such communication is made possible not by sound but by the written symbol. The mind takes in these symbols in silence. Books are mute, as far as sound is concerned.”