Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and she was a pioneer in theories of Early Childhood Education. She was the director of the Orthophrenic School of developmentally disabled children. There she began to extensively research early childhood development and education.
Maria began to conceptualise her own method of applying their educational theories, which is tested through hands on scientific observation of students. Maria found the improvement in student development remarkable.
She then decided to use her teaching method on normal children. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a “blank slate” waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us raising and educating children are in these areas:
• Preparing the most natural and life supporting environment for the child
• Observing the child living freely in this environment
• Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfil his greatest potential – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Maria Montessori’s message to those who emulated her was always to turn one’s attention to the child, to “follow the child”. The potential of the child is not just mental, but is revealed only when the complete “Montessori Method” is understood and followed. The child’s choice, practical work, care of others and the environment, and above all the high levels of concentration reached when work is respected and not interrupted, reveal a human being that is superior not only academically, but emotionally and spiritually, a child who cares deeply about other people and the world, and who works to discover a unique and individual way to contribute.
This is the essence of real “Montessori” work today.
The Goals of Montessori Education are to:
• Provide a carefully planned, stimulating environment where children are free to respond to their natural drive to work and learn
• Encourage the child’s inherent love of learning
• Help the child learn how to observe, question, and explore ideas independently
• Educate the whole child, with activities and lessons designed to promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation
• Assist the child in his/her mental and physical ability to work appropriately in the environment
• Create in the child the sense of independence, self-discipline, concentration, motivation and sensitivity to things around him
• Allow children to have freedom coupled with responsibility, which then leads to self-respect, security, and creativity, which in turn leads to collaboration and cooperation
• Develop a positive attitude towards school and learning
• Encourage the child’s desire for independence and high-self esteem
• Free the child to pursue knowledge and skills most relevant to him or her at a pace that is most comfortable
• Create a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment
• Help children acquire a sense of common humanity that binds peoples of all races and cultures together so that they might grow up to contribute to a more peaceful and co-operative world
• Develop a healthy sense of self-confidence
• Form extended habits of concentration, initiative, and persistence
• Awaken the child’s sense of imagination
• Help the child develop the kindness, courtesy, and self-discipline that will allow him/her to become a full member of society
• Awaken the child’s sense of imagination
1. No pre-determined curriculum; children choose the materials suitable to their developmental stage.
2. Children work at own pace and aren’t hurried to meet a schedule.
3. Children are free to explore and discover on their own.
4. Emphasis on the concrete.
5. Reality orientated.
6. Children are given a sense of order and responsibility – everything has to be returned to its place.
7. The learning environment is child-centred.
8. Children provide their own stimulation and motivation to learn.
9. Montessori materials are designed to promote self-education and self-correction.
10. Montessori methods recognise children’s sensitive developmental and learning periods.
11. Montessori designed multi-sensory materials develop specific skills.
12. Children are free to move around the classroom and pick materials at will.
13. Children may talk freely, provided they don’t disturb the others.
14. Teachers are guides only, encouraging children to act and think for themselves.
15. Disorderly conduct in the class is regarded as the teacher’s fault. Teachers have to adjust their approach to address misbehaviour.
1. Teachers work to a set curriculum.
2. Teachers set the pace to get through the work in a specified time-frame.
3. Teachers enforce a lesson plan that is followed every day.
4. Emphasis on the abstract.
5. Much role play and fantasy.
6. Materials don’t necessarily need to go in the exact place from which they came. There is no real sense of order.
7. The teacher is the centre of attention.
8. Teacher provides the stimulation and drives the learning process.
9. Teachers use reward and punishment as a means to motivate education.
10. Children are subjected to a generic approach and treated alike.
11. Play materials are for non-specific skills.
12. Children have to sit in designated places and aren’t allowed to move without permission or choose their own materials.
13. Children have to keep quiet unless called upon to answer questions or invited to ask questions.
14. The teacher is the leader and children are expected to follow.
15. Disorderly conduct is considered the child’s fault and results in punishment.