Senses are tools for gathering information. Information is gathered through sensory receptors. When senses come in contact with the environment, they gather information. The parts of the body that gather information do not process the information. Information acquired through the senses is random. Impressions are acquired in no particular order. Based on the elements in the environment, children gather sensorial impressions. Every experience in the environment is a multi-sensory impression. For instance, eating food uses the sense of smell, taste and sight. Information that comes in through our senses has no particular classification. Impressions are taken in as have experiences in the environment. The newborn child has the capacity for limitless experiences. All these experiences are gathered as impressions in his mind sensorially.<
Sensorial activities help the child become conscious of the various physical properties of matter. These enable the child to order, classify and comprehend the sensorial impression absorbed from the environment. They help the child develop certain types of motor co-ordination, prepare for the language and arithmetics and helps in sensorial refinement. It enriches his/her vocabulary and also prepares for writing and drawing. These serve as intelligent means of exploration of the environment and support the cerebral development of the child.
Dr. Maria Montessori believes that the hand is the instrument of intelligence. Activity of the hand builds the mind. These activities are the experiences the child must have. We offer activities so that development of the mind is possible and gradually build up intelligence. From material objects, we pull the child into a world of ideas. Dr. Maria Montessori uses the psychological technique called materialized abstractions for that purpose. Ideas cannot be given to the child. They are internalized through activities in the environment. Hence, it necessary to give the child physical objects for experience. Dr. Maria Montessori took ideas and put them into materials around which the child would be active and engaged. The mind looks for patterns and comparisons and obtains clues from them to build understanding.
The concept of isolation of sensorial qualities is used in our classrooms. From multi-information impressions, she isolated individual qualities. Only one quality varies in the material. All the other qualities are identical. The child has minimal impact and effect from other qualities as they are the same. Only the contrast stands out. Quality in an object can be isolated by keeping every feature to be the same except the one which needs to be highlighted. After isolation, we compare and reject the ones that are not the same. That work is done by the hand. Dr. Maria Montessori calls this the principle of isolation. All the qualities in the material are the same except the one quality which we want to bring to the child’s attention. By pairing and grading these qualties through the use of their senses, children understand the environment around them.
Education as help for life should concentrate on supporting the senses and their activities.