September 29th, 2012
Observing a classroom has a certain metaphysical edge. Merely by your presence and watching, you cannot help but feel that you are somehow changing or influencing the class and the students that make it up. My observations took place in two settings, the first and my primary observation source, was at Children’s Garden Montessori School in El Cerrito, my daughter’s school, it is a private pre-school with children ages two to five. My second observation was the Fit Kids program at my local Berkeley YMCA, this program was created for children over the age of eight and combines educational video games, air hockey, tutoring, and physical activity, for children preadolescent to those well into their teen years. The goal of this analysis is to define the educational theories used to produce the programs, introduce the two environments of my observation and discuss how the educational theories are applied in these cases. I will use The Montessori example to elaborate on issues of educational philosophy and also early childhood development, including issues that may arise in early education like behavioral concerns and cognitive disability. The Fit Kids program will serve as my muse for a discussion on information processing in adolescents. Both programs will evaluate teacher behavior, development, and describe the social and emotional environment of the classroom and its effect on student learning and behavior. Children’s Garden Montessori School is a reflection of the Montessori program and teaching style. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator in the early 20th century, created Montessori programs; they contain their own set of educational materials and tools developed by herself and collaborators. The classrooms consist of mixed ages and are allotted uninterrupted blocks of work time. This model allows for personal exploration and discovery as students are allowed to choose their activity and explore at their own inclination and pace. Maria Montessori believed that younger students, those up to the age of about 6, had a natural path for psychological development, and through exploration of their environment they would develop and learn naturally with minimal educator influence. For the adolescents, those on their way to becoming adults, the children are naturally creating a new psychological construction, that is based on their outside environment and those that make it up. This “free play” however is not free of manipulation. Children’s Garden Montessori, and others like it, encourage free exploration, but prepare and manipulate the environment. Lesson plans are established, and the tools and toys made available to fulfill the needs of those lessons. The environment has to be orderly and clean, the space also must be constructed to facilitate flow from activity to activity, and be to the proportion of the students in the school. The available materials, toys, and manipulatives, are limited so all aspects of the environment facilitate development, and all things have an orderly place. Children are responsible for not only returning toys to the original place that they found them before they continue with another activity, but also are responsible for clearing plates, wiping tables, sweeping crumbs and keeping their learning environment pristine. Montessori pedagogy separates the journey from childhood to adulthood into four planes of development. (Montessori, 1949) The first, from birth to six years, is known as the absorbent mind. In this stage or plane, the child is building their independence, developing language, searching for order and increasing their social interactions, defining the behavior that is necessary to thrive. The second plane extends to the twelfth year; this developmental era is defined by...
References: American Montessori Society. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.amshq.org/
Baumrind, Diana (1979). Chapter 5: Effective Parenting During the Early Adolescent Transition. Cowen & Hetherington , Family Tranisitions. Lawerence Erlbaum: NJ. Retrieved from books.google.com.
Bee, H & Boyd, D. (2010). The Developing Child (12th edition). Boston, MA:Allyn & Bacon.
Cossentino, Jacqueline (2007). “Evaluating Montessori: Why the Results Matter More than You Think.” Education Week, 26(21), 31-32.
Montessori, Maria (1949). The Absorbent Mind. The Theosophical Publishing House. Madras, India. Retrieved from archive.org
Murray, Angela K (2008). Public Perceptions of Montessori Education. Proquest Information and Learning Company. Retrieved from books.google.com.
Shortridge, P. Donahue. (2007). Maria Montessori and Educational Forces in America. [Electronic version]. Montessori Life, 19 no. 1, p. 34-47.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document