Edition 5 | September 2018

“Hands are not lifeless instruments”

Dr Maria Montessori

Order and Exactness

Datevig Youmshajekian, Director 9-12 Environment

Nowadays neuroscientists confirm the notion that “hands are the tools of human intelligence”. This is what many teachers have known for years, that there is an intimate correlation between the activity of the human hand and the development of creative thinking.

Handwork is an important and integrated part of the overall curriculum in the upper primary class, it especially appeals to the social nature of the 9-12 child. They are encouraged to learn by touching, feeling and doing. When children in the 9-12 class get actively engaged with their hands, they gain a concrete understanding of the materials. By manipulating the material, they learn, grow and fuse facts and discoveries into their beings, and with the follow-up work after each presentation, they practice designing, planning, preparing, negotiating, collaborating with each other and completing a project.

Handwork absolutely supports children in developing motor control, with experiences like working with clay, sewing, weaving, cutting, needle work and felting, all enhancing motor skills. Also, handwork can result in great concentration and engagement. The ability to follow a project from start to finish is not only immensely satisfying, increasing their ability to focus on non-handwork tasks and building powers of concentration, but promotes good hand-eye coordination too. Handwork develops children’s ability to focus on a project for an extended period. Developing numeracy is another good reason to engage children in handwork, they need to count, measure, develop basic geometry patterns, logical thinking and problem-solving. These are qualities required to navigate their way through the future and offers them a strong foundation that lasts a lifetime.

“Hands are not lifeless instruments. Like the rest of man, they have to learn, so, the part of me, man which is mind, must first control and develop them to make them do what I want. Experience and activity are necessary in order to make intelligence expand and acquire greater understanding.” Dr Maria Montessori