Montessori Method of Education

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. – Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

Montessori Method is a time-tested educational philosophy and method based on the scientific observations. It was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. It is based on the belief that a child has a natural ability to learn about the world and that the child, given a supportive and prepared environment, is capable of self-directed learning. Montessori Method of Education is designed for ages infant to 18-year old.

The Montessori Method involves three key characteristics:

  • a prepared environment – an environment that provides attractive, well-ordered activities to support each child’s physical and mental development.
  • a prepared adult – knowledgeable of the developmental stages of children and young adults, trained as a skilled observer and as a resource for the students.
  • multi-age classrooms – provides the opportunity for younger to feel supported and older students to be a mentor and role model.

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 to middle-class, well-educated, parents.

Montessori eventually entered a medical school in Rome. Her time at medical school was not easy. But she was a dedicated student. She went on to graduate with honors in 1896. She became the first female doctor in Italy.

After medical school Dr. Montessori began a period of research and observation concerning children which lead to the development of her approach to education. In 1907 Dr. Montessori was put in charge of a childcare center in a poor district of Rome which she named the center Casa dei Bambini or ‘Children’s House’.

In 1909 Dr. Montessori gave the first teacher training course in her educational method to 100 adult students. Using her notes from this training course, she published her first book. This book was translated and published in the United States as The Montessori Method.

Montessori societies, training programs, and schools began to spread all over the world.

For the rest of her life, Dr. Montessori dedicated herself to advancing the Montessori Method of education. During World War II, Dr Montessori, along with her son, was forced into exile from her native Italy and lived and worked in India for many years. During this period Dr. Montessori and her son developed the philosophy of Cosmic Education. After her death in 1952, her son and grandchildren carried on her work.

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Child Development Stages

From birth to about age six, children are naturally eager to learn from their environment without any conscious effort. It is very easy for children to acquire certain abilities during these periods of sensitivity. During this time the child is full of enthusiasm and learning these skills is easy. Concentration on a particular activity during these ‘sensitive periods’ leads to the development of a skill.

“When a particular sensitiveness is aroused in a child, it is like a light that shines on some objects but not others, making of them his whole world … Man’s intelligence does not come from nothing; rather, it is built upon the foundations laid by the child during his sensitive periods.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Language acquisition is a main component of the first plane child.

Children of 6 to 12 years have passed beyond the sensitive periods. Children’s minds are now transitioning from the concrete awareness of the sensitive periods into the abstract, logical mind. There is a great need to understand moral and social behavior.

We might say that the younger children take in things sensorially. The child of seven enters the abstract field, he wishes to know reasons . . . one of the things which preoccupies these children is what is ethical in life: what is good, what is bad. – Maria Montessori, Four Planes of Education

Also, these children have an interest in math, science, geography and history. They are ready to build on that earlier foundation and to delve deeper into any subject of interest.

“Everything invented by man, physical or mental, is the fruit of someone’s imagination. In the study of history and geography we are helpless without imagination, and when we propose to introduce the universe to the child, what but imagination can be of use to us? … These subjects must be presented so as to touch the imagination of the child, and make him enthusiastic, and they add fuel to the burning fire that has been lit.” – Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

Adolescence is characterized by immense physical and psychological growth marked by the upheaval of puberty. This is the time when adolescents transition from family life and concerns to social life and a social sentiment for Man in general. This is a period for large projects that take the adolescent and his peers into the community.

Dr. Maria Montessori