2. What are the discoveries of Dr. Maria Montessori ?
Dr. Maria Montessori was a keen observer of children. She used her observational and experimental proclivities from her medical background to develop, what we might today call, a Constructivist understanding of the process of learning. She studied them scientifically. If she saw some unusual behavior in a child, she would say,”I won’t believe it now, I shall if it happens again”. She studied the conditions in which the children would perform those actions. She thought education always involved three elements: The learner, the Prepared Environment, and the Trained Adult. The basic areas in which she gave importance was freedom, independence, respect and responsibility. She believed that the child constructs knowledge from experiencing the world. Learning, she said, was not something that needed to be forced or motivated. Instead, learning is something that humans do naturally. The early years especially are ones of great mental growth. Throughout the early years of life, the child absorbs impressions from the world around him. Not with his mind, but with his life. She recognized that children go through certain phases during which they learn more easily than at any other time in their lives. This innate potential to learn is dependent upon a loving environment that encourages the active pursuit of knowledge. The child should be given the freedom to do his work and must be given the respect for the child as an individual. The behavioral change shown to respect and freedom is very eminent Dr. Montessori's developmentally-appropriate approach to learning is designed to fit each child instead of making each child fit into a preset program. She believed that learning should take place in multi-aged classrooms where children who are at various stages of development can learn from and with each other. This learning should take place in a non-competitive atmosphere in order for each child to develop at his/her own speed. Dr. Montessori observed that the best way for young children to learn is by active, hands-on experiences. She developed the idea of the prepared environment, where the classroom contains a wide variety of cognitive materials that foster learning in numerous areas. The purpose of the materials is not just to impart knowledge to children, but rather to provide them with stimuli that capture their attention and initiate a process of concentration. She was compelled to believe that the children love to do constructive work proved it suited their age and the stage of development. She observed that they worked with great interest and repeated the activities on their own volition to reach a stage of concentration.
Montessori saw two streams of energy within the young child. The first is the physical energy of the body expended in voluntary movement. And the second is mental energy: the energy of intellect and will. She felt that these two streams of energy are often separated by the forces of modern life. And children who are not helped to unite them tend to move aimlessly and clumsily and have unfocused thought patterns.
A unification of mental and physical energies comes about when a child becomes absorbed in work. Montessori called this “normalization.” And concentration, she said, was the key. The carefully prepared environment in the Montessori schools provide the opportunity for children to grow intellectually and emotionally. She decided to follow the child. Thanks to the revelations and the freedom she allowed to the children she was able to discover several aspects of the child and childhood. With her scientific approach of mind she tested whether every child in similar opportunities and similar conditions would manifest the same types of behavior. She tested these again and again and after twenty two years of such experimentation Dr. Montessori could say that she had found a method of helping children in their educational pursuits. Thus came...
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