The Montessori philosophy depends on three proponents, each having
equal value – the child, the cognizant adult and the prepared environment.
The child is the base. Montessori felt that each child was unique and the child’s mind and the process of learning varied throughout the stages of the child’s development.
The Child moves through sensitive periods
Dr. Montessori noticed that there were certain periods of particular sensitivity that occurred in children. During these periods children could learn the activity that she was focused on at a particularly intense rate and that such learning appeared to come very easily.
The periods were a sensitive period for order, refinement of the senses, language acquisition, walking, and movement,
small objects and involvement in social life.
If left to follow this natural interest the child could achieve much more than would normally be expected. Montessori teachers, therefore, watch out for these very creative periods and make sure that the children have the freedom to follow their interests.
Children need freedom
Montessori saw freedom as the single most important factor in
allowing children to develop as spontaneous, creative individuals.
The aware adult, whether a parent or teacher, acts as an observer, protects the child’s right to learn, models desired behavior, prepares the environment and also accommodates the needs of the child. In the classroom setting, the adult is neither simply the central authority nor “imparter of knowledge”. When presenting a lesson, the adult’s role is to model the learning activity. This is done in a slow, concise way, modeling care and respect. Different modalities of learning are considered when a lesson is given. That is, when the adult speaks, they are not demonstrating, and when they are modeling, there is little language. In this way the child’s attention can be focused more on what is said or on what is done. The child is then invited to do the task. Most of the Montessori materials are self-correcting so that the child can “learn as they go”.
Children learn through their senses
Dr. Montessori saw that children built on their physical experiences of the world through their senses. By designing interesting materials which the children were drawn to, she could help them extend this understanding.
The prepared environment is one that encourages exploration and movement (especially for the young child) and will allow “freedom within limits”.
The child is shown how to respect the environment, how to make choices and is allowed to develop
the abilities of concentration, coordination, and a sense of order and independence.
Montessori realized that children first needed concrete objects to hold and manipulate. Subsequent materials would then gradually lead the child to abstraction.
Children are natural learners
Montessori schools believe that children are at their happiest when they are busily involved in a process.
They are natural learners who will want to constantly
explore the world if left to follow their instincts.
External demands that don’t fit with their needs is what stops children from enjoying this natural curiosity. The only results young children are interested in are the ones that end up making them feel good about themselves and their abilities. Learning their unacceptable results that in turn makes them feel bad creates a fear of the process. That fear can cut them off from the joy of learning forever.
Montessori schools believe that each child is an individual and should be encouraged to work at the pace that is right for him or her. Children are never in competition with each other.
Let’s preserve the rights of each child to be protected
from undue pressure and make learning FUN and NATURAL
Dr. Maria Montessori wrote many books during her time. Here are some recommendations:
– The Discovery of the Child.
– The Secret of Childhood.
– The Absorbent Mind.
There are also many books written by other authors about Montessori and her philosophy.
Research & Resources :
The Atlantic: Why Grades are not the key to achievement (6/2017) An interesting teaching ‘experiment’ concludes that the intrinsic love of learning supplants the drive for high marks in the long run.
NY Times: How do we educate people for an automated world? (3/2017) As our world becomes more and more automated, schools continue to play an important role in preparing children for the ever-changing dynamic work world. The most important skill to learn is how to learn. “Many of the ‘skills’ that will be needed are more like personality characteristics, like curiosity, or social skills that require enculturation to take hold,” wrote Stowe Boyd, managing director of Another Voice, which provides research on the new economy.marks in the long run.
Quora: A Stanford dean on adult skills every 18-year-old should have (4/2016) Originally appeared in book by Julie Lythcott-Haims, NYT bestsellerHow to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (Henry Holt & Co., 2015) Former Stanford dean shares the life skills that are necessary to be successful in college years and beyond.
Newsweek: Age 5 is Too Late: Public Schools Must Focus on Early Learning (8/7/16)
“Scientific research into brain development and the optimal learning window from zero to age 5 is conclusive. The quality of care and experiences during the early years of life literally sets the stage for all future interactions and ability to learn. I don’t want to say after age 5, it’s all downhill, but the quality of care and experiences before age 5 determines if the child will have an uphill battle or a smooth road entering school.”
New York Times: What Babies Know About Physics and Foreign Languages (7/30/16)
“New research tells us scientifically what most preschool teachers have always known intuitively. If we want to encourage learning, innovation and creativity we should love our young children, take care of them, talk to them, let them play and let them watch what we do as we go about our everyday lives.”
The Washington Post: Once all but left for dead, is cursive handwriting making a comeback? (7/26/16)
The cursive comeback is championed by a mix of educators, researchers, parents, and politicians who lament the loss of linked-letter writing and cite studies that learning cursive engages the brain more deeply, improves fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination.
Forbes: The Future of Education Was Invented in 1906 (1/2014)
“In fact, the future of education was invented in 1906. That’s the year Maria Montessori, who was the first female medical doctor in Italy, opened her revolutionary school…Montessori education was so groundbreaking because it was the first (and, to my knowledge), scientific education method. By which I mean the following: every other education method is based on an abstract model of the child and then derives education methods from that. Maria Montessori, a doctor, and a researcher went the other way around: she experimented with methods and, based on the results, built up a theory of the child, which she then tested and refined through experiment.”
Read the full article
Science Magazine: Evaluating Montessori Education (2006)
“On several dimensions, children at a public inner-city school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants…By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests in reading and math, engaged in more positive interactions on the playground, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control.”
Read the full article
National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector: Does it Work? What Research Says about Montessori and Student Outcomes (2003-2012)
“Montessori parents know first-hand how this approach to education supports and nurtures children’s development in all areas: physical, intellectual, language, and social-emotional. Scientific research confirms that Montessori children have an advantage not only academically, but also in social and emotional development.”
Read the full article and links to research studies
The New York Times: Why Do Americans Stink at Math? (7/2014)
This article, though doesn’t mention Montessori by name, speaks to the benefits of a Montessori-type approach to teaching math. Here’s a sample of some of the article:
“Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties, and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun.”
Read the full article
Harvard Business Review: Montessori Builds Innovators (7/2011)
“There are strident disagreements these days over every aspect of American educational policy, except for one. Everyone thinks it would be great if we could better teach students how to innovate.
So shouldn’t we be paying a great deal of attention to the educational method that produced, among others, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Wales, Peter Drucker, Julia Child, David Blaine, and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs? They were all students in Montessori schools. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Sims, there’s a “Montessori Mafia” among the creative elite. So maybe there’s something to the method Italian physician Maria Montessori came up with around the turn of the 20th century.”
Read the entire article
The Boston Globe: Succeeding at their own pace: The Montessori approach to education and some of its famous alumni have made great strides in recent years (8/2011)
“One of my favorite writers, Steven Levy, has published a new book about Google: “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.’’ Cynics might call it a disguised ad for the cabinet of many wonders that is Google – as if the company needs promotion. It is also a heartfelt Valentine to the Montessori educational system, which, Levy writes, inspired the Google experience. You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] were Montessori kids,’’ one staffer tells Levy. “Montessori really teaches you to do things on your own at your own pace and schedule,’’ Brin says in the book. “It was a pretty fun, playful environment – like Google.’’
Read the entire article
The Montessori Foundation: Montessori 101
Every year thousands of young children begin their education in Montessori schools around the world. Their parents ask, “Just what is this thing called Montessori?” Their questions are well founded because Montessori schools are normally very different from the schools most of us attended when we were young.
Read the entire article
Steph Curry shares his Montessori Journey
Barbara Walters interviews the founders of Google
Dr. Stephen Hughes: Montessori and the Future of Education
Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Thinkers
A Peek inside a Montessori Classroom
Association Montessori Internationale
American Montessori Society
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