Wider horizons is a Montessori concept, which encourages the teaching of pupils, without the constrains of curriculum and as much and as far as the imagination brings him. The six year old is by now in possession of many interests and skills, from practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics. His personality, psychology and physical appearance has changed.
In her book, From Childhood to Adolescence, Montessori states that the changes from one level to the next are so different that they can be compared to the “metamorphoses of insects.” Montessori.1948. p.1. She compares the changing of the caterpillar changing into a butterfly to the likeness of how the child changes and evolves. She continues to say that the changes are not as clearly defined in the child and it would be more exact to speak of them as “rebirths”. “At each new stage there is a different child who presented characteristics different from those he exhibited during preceding years.” Montessori.1948. p.1.
To broaden the child’s learning experiences through wider horizons, the teacher must first know what stage the pupil is at and what the characterises of the child are.
The book, From Childhood to Adolescence, Montessori suggests that the child from approximately seven to twelve is “generally calm and happy.” Montessori.1948. p.1. She also suggests that he is mentally stable and he is healthier, stronger and assured ability. At this stage there are two sub phases: age six to nine: where new functions and abilities are created and the second phases, age nine to twelve; where the child refines new skills learnt. (Montessori, 1948)
Montessori warns educators that it is these changes, physical and mental, that have the greatest bearing on the method of education to be considered. The child’s personality is fixed but the child’s needs are changing.
The child of this age has an eagerness to learn and to discover. This is the period when the seed of all subjects can be sown. In her book, To Educate the Human Potential, Maria Montessori describes the child’s mind as “being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.” Montessori.1948. p.3.
Considering this, the teacher could use the concept wider horizons when developing lesson plans in all subjects. In saying this, however, I have observed on my teaching practice that pupils of this age are especially interested in culture. I observed a culture lesson given by one of the parents who was now living in Ireland but originally from India. She spoke of their culture, food, dress, school system, language and transportation, among other aspects. I watched the pupils listening intently, fascinated with the details. After the lesson, they were keen to look up books and research pictures of India.
The child of six to nine and up to twelve has a social need, according to Maria Montessori in her book, To Educate the Human Potential. She describes how the child has a need to associate himself with others, not just for the sake of friends or company, but in some sort of organised activity. She suggests that the child likes to mix with others in a group where each has a different status. “A leader is chosen, obeyed and a strong group is formed.” This is a natural tendency.” Montessori.1948. p.4.
This made me wonder, is this behaviour is the same for children of all cultures? And made me question, do children of the world, automatically, naturally organise themselves into the western hierarchal society structure?
Montessori suggests in her book, Childhood and Adolescence, that the teacher blend the right use and amount of imagination in awakening interest in the pupil and in the “stimulation of the seeds of interest already sown”. Montessori.1948. p.4. These seeds would have...