Montessori states that, ‘The hand is the instrument of the mind’. Explain the importance of the hand by referring to the use of the hand in working with the Sensorial Materials.
“The human hand, so delicate and so complicated, not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enables the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment. We might even say that man “takes possession of his environment with his hands”. (Montessori M, The Secret of Childhood, 1972, p 81)
Maria Montessori stated that our hands are what put us as humans above the rest of the animal species. This is because humans are the only species to use their hands separately to their legs, and humans use their hands to create and change their environment to suit their needs. Our hands are not simply used instinctively, but are guided by our minds.
Our legs develop due to a purely biological stimulus, namely the sudden, rapid growth of the cerebellum when we are about 6 months old. Our hands however, are developed by our minds, and vice versa. That is to say, when we are born we all have the same basic hands, but our minds are what determine what we do with them. The work of our hands reflects our skills or intelligence, as the paintings of an artist reflect his creative skill, or the music of a pianist reflects his musically developed mind. Also our hands’ experience helps us to learn and develop our minds.
Sensorial materials focus very much on using the hand to build the child’s intelligence. While building the Pink Tower or Broad Stair he is exposed to concepts such as height, depth, length and breadth. When his fingers feel the ‘Touch Boards’ and ‘Touch Tablets’ he learns concepts like rough and smooth. Holding the Baric Tablets teach him what light and heavy means. As he places his palms on the Thermic Tablets he will discover the difference between hot and cold. Using his hands he will shake the sound cylinders and his mind will be exposed to louder and softer...