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The Human Tendencies

By Tania Gaffney – Rātā Teacher & Deputy Principal Primary

After the 1st plane of development (i.e. Preschool) we do not talk of Sensitive Periods any more, rather how we are catering to the Human Tendencies of the 2nd plane child.

Human tendencies are innate characteristics that every human has from birth throughout life which they use to meet their own needs. They do not follow any sequence, rather they work with each other in an interconnected way. They are as follows:

– Tendency to Order, e.g. following a sequence, understanding cause and effect, following a train of thought or an argument.

– Tendency to Orient, e.g. adapting to new situations.

– Tendency to Work or Manipulate, e.g. putting ideas into action, manipulating equipment.

– Tendency to Repeat, e.g. repeating a skill/s to build competency.

– Tendency to be Exact or Perfect, e.g. getting something to match the idea in your head.

– Tendency to Explore, e.g. the urge to investigate, to broaden our knowledge or horizons.

– Tendency to Abstraction, e.g. beginning with the concrete form which leads to being able to play with an idea without the concrete form.

– Tendency to Communicate, e.g. sharing, cooperating and collaborating with others.

When a Montessori teacher thinks about their class they ask themselves, “How are we allowing for the human tendencies to be lived out by the tamariki?”  Communication is an example. When I was young, we each had our own desk which the teacher generally arranged individually or occasionally in pairs but always with the idea of restricting the flow of communication and movement.  Consequently, we did everything in our power to communicate covertly with each other by whispering or passing notes.  Our ākonga have the freedom to move about and communicate with each other in class. This leads to children helping each other, collaborating on projects or chatting over morning tea.

What about the Tendency to order?  The 6-12 mind is quite different from the 0-6 mind where for the young child, the tendency to order is more about the external environment.  At the older level there is always creative disorder during work time, but everything still has a home and the environment should still be as beautiful as the 3-6 class.  The order that is being developed here is more in the mind of the 6-12 year old, e.g. learning about the order of the universe, the world and society and how they work.

It might be interesting for you to watch your tamariki and see how they are trying to fulfil their human needs through these tendencies and ask yourself, “Is there something I need to do to help my child communicate with me or adapt to some new situation?”

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