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Fantasy vs Reality learning

As part of a community research project for the Montessori school my daughter attends, we are researching the debate on reality-based versus fantasy-based learning materials.

I would be most grateful if you could suggest readings or websites that address this topic.

When looking for information I would look for key words such as fairy tales, abstract vs. hands on approach to learning, concrete, etc. Much of Montessori's methods are concrete or reality based for young children. When the concrete lesson is mastered, it then can be taught in an abstract method. Fantasy learning is a part of abstract learning. Dr. Montessori's book, The Montessori Method is an on line book  may be helpful.

Montessori talks a great deal about fantasy and fairy tales in
 "To Educate the Human Potential"

Dr. Montessori addresses fantasy verses reality education in the following quote—
Educationsist in general agree that imagination is important, but the would have it cultivated as separate from intelligence, just as they would separate the latter from the activity of the hand. They are vivisectionsists of the human personality. In the school they want children to learn dry facts of reality, while their imagination is cultivated by fairy tales, concerned with a world that is certainly full of marvels, but not the world around them in which they live. Certainly these tales have impressive factors which move the childish mind to pity and horror, for they are full of woe and tragedy, of children who are starved, ill-treated, abandoned, and betrayed. Just as adults find pleasure in tragic drama and literature, these tales of goblins and monsters give pleasure and stir the child’s imagination, but they have no connection with reality.
(To Educate the Human Potential)

Here are some links that may help you:

Dr. Mario Montessori uses modern terms to explain Montessori's view on fantasy and reality:


Hal Horvath

posted at 11:20 a.m. on March 6, 2012

Very few children fail to figure out that Santa Claus or Goldilocks is an imaginary character, and in fact usually figure this out at a *very* young age, as the Three Bears story is especially obvious as a form of pretending. In fact, Fairy Tales use a fantastic element *exactly in order to distinguish story from reality*. So, speaking against Fairy Tales seems in error. Montessori's observation: "these tales of goblins and monsters give pleasure and stir the child’s imagination, but they have no connection with reality" simply seems basic to me. But...then, why talk of it at all? Contrast to this Montessori Mom view: "In my Montessori training we were taught that fantasy was a natural part of a child’s development, but adults need to be realistic with children about what is imaginary and what is real." In other words, the reality and fantasy experience of about 98% or 99% of children is exactly as it should be -- using pretending as a normal part of development. The child easily distinguishes what is pretend and what is real *and exactly that realization is part of development.* I'm left wondering what the distinction is in Montessori. Is it only the very important idea that hands-on real world objects are superior to computers for learning? That's a great point. That's worth emphasizing. But if that's the point, why not make it more focused and clear?

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