Montessori’s Human Tendencies

Hello everyone !

Today I would like to talk about another piece of Montessori theory that took me a little while to understand and that I will still discover as I work with children. Let me give you a short cut so you can understand what Human Tendencies are.

They are energies, impulses, natural inclinations that lead (drive) the human being to act certain ways towards building and developing potentialities. These potentialities and abilities will help the human being adapt to his environment and develop.

All human beings have Human Tendencies regardless of race or group(s) we belong to.

Montessori also talks about the “Horme” that is the first and foremost vital energy that makes us ALIVE and drives us to be, do, make…. This term comes from a psychologist of her time.

Alexis moves
Activity is a Human Tendency. It’s innate, babies move !

Human Tendencies are not potentialities, they are behaviours, it’s a fact, an energy. BUT it develops potentialities we have in us. We are driven towards order, orientation, we see it, recognize it or the lack of it and then we can develop the potential to create order. Order is in potential in us, from birth, then thanks to the human tendency and the environment, we can develop that potential for order.

Therefore, certain things are the same for everybody like the Human tendencies, we are predisposed for it, they are innate :

« Tendencies do not change and human tendencies are hereditary. The child possesses them in potentiality at birth… these tendencies assume different aspects by the aid of what Dr Montessori called ‘sensitive periods’. » Mario Montessori, Human tendencies and Montessori education

And now on to each Human Tendency.

As defined by Montessori, there are 12 Human Tendencies:

Communication – urge to communicate, to establish relationship through communication with others

Alexis curious
Exploration and Activity at work here!

Order – urge for routine, to see things in the same place

Orientation – urge to know where we are, where we belong – it is linked to order.


Exploration – urge to see, touch in order to understand – it is linked to manipulation


Manipulation – urge to touch to experience through sense of touch – linked to exploration and movement

Work – urge to work, children love working, it leads to focus and happiness

Repetition – urge to repeat over and over – linked to exactness and self-perfection

This young toddler did this work over and over and nothing could disturb her from it: REPETITION of work !

Activity/movement – urge to move (hence the rather useless: “Stop moving!”)

Self-perfection – urge to get better and master –  linked to exactness

Exactness – urge to get it right – linked to self-perfection and repetition

Abstraction – urge to move away from concrete things – happens more around the second plane of development (6 to 12 years old)

Elevation – urge to go beyond yourself and your concreteness – happening later as well


I hope this makes sense and can help you understand better some of your own or your child’s innate urges !

Did you notice/observe some of your child’s Human Tendencies ?

One thought on “Montessori’s Human Tendencies

  1. Pingback: The Child in the Family – Chez Mahe Montessori Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s