"Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities." Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr Maria Montessori, physician, anthropologist and pedagogue, studied children of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for over fifty years. Her intense scientific observation of the human being from birth to maturity allowed her to distill a body of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical principles. These, together with a vast range of auto-didactic materials, came to be known as the Montessori Method of Education.Montessori education is a comprehensive and continuous response to the vital exigencies of the total human being, adapted to each stage of development. Key aspects of the Montessori Approach include the Prepared Environment and the role of the Montessori Educator.
Montessori Prepared Environment
Beauty, Order, Accessibility
Walk into a Montessori classroom, anywhere in the world, in any suburb of any city and you will invariably see happy and busy children working purposefully. The classroom itself will typically be beautiful and enticing. Great care has been taken to create a learning environment that will reinforce the child's independence and natural urge toward self-development. This is achieved in three ways: beauty, order and accessibility. The Montessori materials are beautifully handcrafted and are displayed on low open shelves. Each piece of material has a specific purpose and is presented to the children in a manner that will enable them to direct their own learning.
The Montessori materials are tools to stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. They are provocative, enticing and simple. Each piece of material presents one concept or idea at a time and has what is known as a "control of error". If the child has done something incorrectly it will be self-evident. The geometric shape, for example, won't fit the hole; the water will spill on the table or the last label will not match the last picture. Being able to see his or her own mistake allows the child to work independently.
Community (Mixed Age Group)
The Montessori classroom is not merely a place for individual learning. It is a vibrant community of children, where the child learns to interact socially in a variety of ways. The three-year age range enables older children to teach the younger and learn much themselves from the experience while the younger children are inspired to more advanced work through observing the older ones. With such a variety of levels in the classroom, each child can work at his or her own pace, unhindered by competition and encouraged by co-operation. Children attend daily and for a three-year cycle.
“To aid life…that is the basic task of the educator.” Dr Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Montessori education is based on the premise that children have an innate ability to learn and that when supported by an appropriate environment and educator, they are guided through their developmental needs to reach their full potential.
A Montessori classroom typically has a trained Montessori teacher, known as a Director or Directress, supported by a Montessori assistant. Montessori teachers typically have a normal teacher qualification as well as an additional Montessori specific training. The teacher is a guide or facilitator whose task it is to support the young child in his or her process of self-development. They are foremost an observer, unobtrusively yet carefully monitoring each child's development, recognising and interpreting each child's needs.
The teacher provides a link between the child and the prepared environment, introducing the child to each piece of equipment when he or she is ready in a precise, clear and enticing way. The most important attribute of a Montessori teacher is the love and respect she holds for each child's total being.
The Montessori assistant’s role is to support the teacher and promote peace and order in the classroom. They value and respect the uniqueness of each child while consistently nurturing and modelling a love of learning. The assistant is a keen observer and is knowledgeable about developmentally appropriate behaviour and practices and supports the individual needs and interests of the children.
Source: AMI Website