What Is “Montessori,” Anyway?
Maria Montessori: The Woman Behind The Name Maria Montessori was a medical doctor, born in Italy in 1870, whose Montessori offers interest in the mentally retarded led her to develop a highly successful “freedom within structure.” concrete and sensory-based teaching approach that helped them to learn. Later, she applied her discoveries to normal but impoverished children from the slums of Rome, and her success with these children was even more remarkable. Soon, people from all over the word came to her “Children’s House” (Casa de Bambini) to learn from her. She devised specialized materials, a teaching method, and later a philosophy of education that is internationally known, based on her careful observation of the child. She observed that children had a need for order that is different from our own. She also observed that children go through sensitive periods during which there is a special window of opportunity open for their learning. The Montessori Philosophy Underlying Maria Montessori’s method was a philosophy based on the dignity and spiritual worth of the child. The basis of the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry unseen within them the person they will become. In order to develop their unique potential, they must have freedom— freedom to explore, freedom to be creative, freedom to choose. This freedom is achieved through order and self-discipline. Respect For The Child The Montessori philosophy is based on a deep respect for the child, particularly the individuality of each child. We respect the child and we nurture the adult he is to become. The Absorbent Mind Every child has an inner need to grow physically, emotionally and mentally (cognitively). Maria Montessori used the term “a child’s absorbent mind” to label this inner motivation to learn. She observed that children propel themselves towards greater learning, no matter what their differences. The WHOLE Child Maria Montessori was concerned with the development of the whole child--body, mind and spirit. Everything in the Montessori classroom is structured to support growth in every area for a child.
Highlights of Montessori:
Respect for the dignity of each child Freedom of choice within structure and limits “Follow the lead of the child”: each unfolds at his own pace The environment is “prepared” The teacher is a catalyst Learning is sensory-based Children “act on the environment” using their hands Work and accomplishment bring joy and satisfaction
The Three Elements: Teacher, Child, Prepared Environment The Montessori approach to education involves a three-way interaction between the child, the prepared environment, and the teacher. Through this interaction, the natural process of learning occurs for a young child. Maria Montessori believed that “education is not something that the teacher does…it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but (from) experiences in which the child acts on the environment.” Montessori is Sensory-Based Maria Montessori observed that children learn by doing. She designed her materials so that children in the classroom may manipulate (“act upon”) them and learn through self-discovery. Every piece of
Montessori equipment has its basis in sensory discrimination. This means that children touch, see, taste, hear, and feel the materials. They then learn to classify and categorize their experiences, which lead them to understand different concepts. As young children grow, they develop sensitivities for the more intellectual pursuits of mathematics and language. But even these materials have their basis in sensory discrimination. Being an acute observer, Dr. Montessori learned what recent brain research has shown us: the development of a child’s senses precedes the development of higher thinking capacities. Following The Lead Of The Child Maria Montessori found that every child has his own unique pace...
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