Steiner-educated children, for example, have often been shown to excel at imaginative art. A study conducted by the Department of Psychology, University of York comparing the drawing abilities of children from Steiner, Montessori and conventional schools concluded; “The results suggest that the approach to art education in Steiner schools is conducive not only to more highly rated imaginative drawings in terms of general drawing ability and use of colour but also to more accurate and detailed observational drawings” (EP2000)

This has left Montessori open to the accusation that it fails sufficiently to develop a child’s ability to be creative. This was not, however, Montessori’s aim or intention and is not the effect of her work when her method is properly understood and implemented. She merely contends not that children should not be allowed scope for imagination, but that they cannot be truly creative until they have properly understood the real nature of things.

She writes in “the Absorbent Mind” (p161), “The child’s mind between the age of three and six can not only see by intelligence the relations between things, but it has the higher power still of mentally imagining those things which that are not directly visible. Imagination has always been given a predominant place in the psychology of childhood, and all over the world people tell their children fairy stories which are enjoyed immensely as if the children wanted to exercise this great gift, as imagination undoubtedly is. Yet, when we are all agreed that the child loves to imagine, why do we give him only fairy tales and toys on which to practise this gift? If a child can imagine a fairy and fairy land, it will not be difficult for him to imagine America. Instead of hearing it referred to vaguely in conversation, he can help to clarify his own ideas of it by looking at the globe on which it is shown. We often forget that imagination is a force for the discovery of the truth. The mind is not a passive thing, but a devouring flame, never in repose, always in action”.  Montessori is not opposed to fantasy and creativity; she merely sees the pitfalls both of failing to help children distinguish between reality and fantasy and also of failing to provide fuel for that devouring flame that is a child’s quest for the truth about life.