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The Montessori Method
At the turn of the century, Dr. Maria Montessori began a revolution in
education. She believed that education must meet the needs of the whole
child: the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Her approach to teaching was built upon respect for the child. Dr.
Montessori asserted that children are capable of learning at a young age if
given the opportunity and help. This capability grows from the child's
innate desire to learn rather than from adult pressure.
Utilizing her skills of scientific observation, Dr. Montessori carefully
watched children over a number of years, and gained new insights into the nature
of childhood learning. She introduced the "prepared
environment" which offers the child security of order. The sense
of order, prevalent in a Montessori classroom, diminishes frustration and gives
the child satisfaction and self-direction.
The Montessori apparatus, designed by Dr. Montessori, is the salient
ingredient in the prepared environment. The apparatus enables the child to
order and to classify his/her environment and the many diverse sensations
provided by it. Montessori apparatus includes the following:
- Practical Life - This area gives the child an opportunity to perform real everyday activities.
- Sensorial - The training and sharpening of the senses enlarges the field of perception and offers a solid
foundation for intellectual growth.
- Language - By taking the language that already exists in a child and help him/her
classify that existing language.
For example: first sound, then words, and
finally, arrangement of sentences.
- Mathematics - This area gives the child a chance to verify facts through experience
and to exercise his/her innate potential.
- Global/Cultural Subjects - This area covers subjects such as geography, history,
art, music, botany, science, zoology and foreign language.
The Montessori apparatus has many characteristics but there are fundamental
qualities common to every piece of material. They are as follows:
- The Control of Error - The materials contain in themselves a
control of error which makes the child use his/her reasoning power, increase
his/her capacity for drawing distinctions and promotes independence.
- Aesthetics - All materials are made as attractive as
possible. Color, brightness, and proportion are sought in all the
- Activity - A key factor in all the Montessori materials is that it
lends itself to the motor activities of the child. Every object can be
removed, used, and put back into its proper place.
The Montessori materials are designed with scientific precision. Each
has a definite aim. They give the child clear impressions, help the
child organize his/her environment, develop his/her muscular coordination, and permit
him/her to experience the joy of accomplishment.
Discipline is central to the Montessori classroom.
There is no learning without discipline. The authority of the teacher
is replaced by the individual inner discipline in the children. In keeping order,
children often teach one another more than an adult can.
In Montessori, the virtues of character are as highly prized as academic
achievement. Children grow not only in self-confidence, but also in a
sense of responsibility. Intellect, physical powers, and moral insight
must all be developed if a child is to be prepared to meet the demands of
life. The center of the Montessori method is the child. The
prepared environment, the apparatus, the philosophy behind the technique all
flow from an understanding of the child and a respect for his/her worth.