A lot of us are bothered about the proliferation of term ‘Montessori’ in our schools. Yes, we should be worried especially because most schools who term themselves so do not practice the Montessori system in earnest.
Dr Maria Montessori believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a “blank slate” waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us raising and educating children are in these areas:
- Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environments for the child
- Observing the child living freely in this environment
- Continually adapting the environment in order that the chid may fulfill his or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
“Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants – doing nothing but living and walking about – came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning: would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child’s way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.”
Montessori teachers are scientific observers of children. They avoid using rewards and punishments for good or poor work. Montessori teachers never criticize or interfere in a child’s work. It is only in a trusting atmosphere that a child’s personality has room to grow. Children must have the freedom to choose their own activities and learn to behave without restriction. Dr. Montessori thought this was real work and that the child would reveal his/her true nature once he/she found work that commanded his/her full attention.
- Montessori teachers are the dynamic link between children and the Prepared Environment.
- They systematically observe their students and interpret their needs.
- They are constantly experimenting, modifying the environment to meet their perceptions of each child’s needs and interests, and objectively noting the result.
- They prepare an environment meant to facilitate children’s independence and ability to freely select work that they find appealing, selecting activities that will appeal to their interests and keeping the environment in perfect condition, adding to it and removing materials as needed.
- They carefully evaluate the effectiveness of their work and the design of the environment every day.
- They observe and evaluate each child’s individual progress.
- They respect and protect their students’ independence. They must know when to step in and set limits or lend a helping hand, and when it is in a child’s best interests for them to step back and not interfere.
- They are supportive, offering warmth, security, stability, and non-judgmental acceptance to each child.
- They facilitate communication among the children and help the children to learn how to communicate their thoughts to adults.
- They interpret the children’s progress and their work in the classroom to parents, the school staff, and the community.
- They present clear, interesting and relevant lessons to the children. They attempt to engage the child’s interest and focus on the lessons and activities in the environment.
- They model desirable behavior for the children, following the ground-rules of the class, exhibiting a sense of calm, consistency, grace and courtesy, and demonstrating respect for every child.
- They are peace educators, consistently working to teach courteous behaviors and conflict.
- They are diagnosticians who can interpret patterns of growth, development, and behavior in order to better understand the children and make necessary referrals and suggestions to parents.
I believe that the best systems of education will be those that blend best practices at different age levels. I believe that not all schools must practice Montessori fully i.e. following all patterns and materials but ALL schools should be ‘Montessori compliant‘ in principle and practice.
Is your child attending a ‘Montessori’ school? Are these teacher roles your child’s experiences? If not, please share this information to the school noting your expectations. If yes, simply splendid! Let’s read your thoughts.
Read a lot about Montessori methods here – montessoritraining.blogspot.com