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 is a revolutionary method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Montessori educational practice helps children develop creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and time-management skills, care of the environment and each other, and prepares them to contribute to society and to become fulfilled persons. The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is mixed age group (3 - 6 ages in one class), individual choice of research and work, and uninterrupted concentration. Group lessons are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds, and because it is enjoyed, children remember what they learn. The unique practices that make Montessori is the fastest growing and most successful method of education today.
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. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society. - Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
Through joyful, meaningful and integrated learning, our students become constructive and creative thinkers who will contribute responsible, compassionate, and cross-cultural perspectives to the global community. In the Montessori classroom, a three hour work cycle is respected in order to allow the child to work towards deep concentration. Her right to follow her inner developmental needs are honored and she is protected from interruption or chaos as she works to understand and mater her environment.
All work in this environment is sequential and activities are presented to the child at the exact right moment, when she needs them in order to fulfill a developmental need. The materials themselves have been designed with built-in control of errors, eliminating the need for external rewards or punishments. The reward is found in the work itself and a deep love of learning as a process is formed and cemented, remaining a part of the child for the rest of her life.
Since children work mostly independently in the Montessori environment, the need for competition is eliminated. Instead, compassion, patience and mutual respect are nurtured. Children learn to become part of a community as they navigate the social nuances required of a mixed age group. Younger children are provided with peers as role models and older children learn the true meaning of what it is to be a leader as they set good examples and practice works of compassion that benefit the group as a whole. Children learn to listen to and make room for others, and express their opinions thoughtfully; they also develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and the world they inhabit.
In the Montessori classroom, the adult acts as a guide and aid to the child’s development. This means that it is not her right to be the dictator or to exert control over the child, but to act as an ever observant presence, directing the child towards activities and materials that the child himself is showing that he requires for his own development.
She must be the consummate role model, conducting herself with integrity, sensitivity and compassion. Her movements in the environment are graceful and precise, allowing the child to see exactly how he is to use the materials provided. Her language is clear, appropriate and accurate, ensuring that only the true names of objects are given, respecting the child’s intelligence and abilities. She carefully prepares the environment with the needs of the child in mind and works diligently to maintain and beautify everything the child comes into contact with in the classroom.
She provides open guidance and follow-through, acting with consistency and demonstrating dependability, creating a safe and certain environment for each child. She is aware that the child holds within a secret and waits patiently and respectfully his inner workings and true nature to be revealed. The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.
- Maria Montessori