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Fostering Children’s Natural Curiosity and Zest for Learning

Categories: Dr. Montessori / Practical Life / The Montessori Difference

In an article for, Professor Peter Gray discusses the natural instincts children have to learn, discover, and develop.  He writes that current conventional education doesn’t allow for these instincts to continue to flourish once a child begins school.  He stresses the need for schools that foster a child’s independence and ability to help steer their learning.  These settings emphasize “children’s natural curiosity and zest for learning persist all the way through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.”



“Through questioning and exploring, they (children) acquire an enormous amount of knowledge about the physical and social world around them, and in their play, they practice skills that promote their physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. They do all this before anyone, in any systematic way, tries to teach them anything.”  –  Peter Gray, author of “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self Reliant, and Better Prepared for Life.”




It is this “natural curiosity and zest for learning” that Maria Montessori observed during her own work with young children.  Her materials, lessons, and educational approach are designed to capitalize on the nature of each individual child.    As Dr. Bilezikian recently remarked that as educators, we are here to help guide and plant the seeds for further inquiry; the child’s curiosity will rise to the task of exploration and learning.



Professor Gray writes again on the need for educational reform in this article for, a follow-up to the article quoted above.