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Montessori is an educational approach that was created by the doctor and pedagogue, Maria Montessori. The basic pillars of a Montessori education revolve around the ideas of the necessity of independence, freedom within certain limits, and an overall respect for a child's organic development, in regards to all that is both psychological and physical, but also verbal, intellectual and even social. Some scholars argue that no two Montessori schools are alike and that no two Montessori classrooms are even alike. Even so, there are certain tenets of a Montessori education that continue to subsist. For instance, classrooms where there is a mix of ages is a common trend, such as a classroom with toddlers to even six-year-olds socializing and learning together. Unlike traditional schools where students have to work on certain tasks as clearly dictated by a teacher, students in Montessori have the option of engaging in activities from a wide choice of options and concepts. There are also uninterrupted chunks of working time, such as time revolving around the three hour mark. One of the most interesting or unique aspects of the Montessori method is that it is characterized by a Constructivist philosophy, where learning concepts originate from engaging with materials and unearthing results from those actions, rather than via direct teachings.
These discoveries are more likely to happen because students are working with specific and precise educational materials that were created by Montessori and her colleagues; these materials are specifically geared towards students making discoveries and building such bridges of ideas. Unlike traditional classrooms, there's also an ability for greater movement and exploration: students are confined to desks and other such fettering forms of structure: freedom of movement prevails because a trained Montessori teacher is always engaged and supervising.
All programs are designed with strong reference and regard to the Montessori model and theory of human development which Montessori essentially spent her entire lifetime developing, refining and guiding. None of the pillars of Montessori were arbitrary; instead, Montessori viewed certain characteristics as innate to the human condition: these are aspects like activity, exploration, manipulation of environment, and others.
This paper is going to examine some of the more fundamental pillars and ideas behind Montessori education and make a strong case for why this is one of the most effective and liberating forms of education for developing children and teenagers. It more readily allows them to learn in ways which are more organic to the human condition and which are more natural for children and young adults. Montessori gives children an education that will empower them to develop their abilities to be critical thinkers and creative minds, allowing them to more likely grow into adults which will make a firm impact on the world.
Education for Human Development
One of the aspects which makes a Montessori education so unique is that Montessori was able to realize the importance of personality in learning and development, and placed a value upon the personality of the child. "Montessori saw education as a means whereby children might develop their personalities so as to eventually achieve a mature and independent adulthood. She designed her educational material to aid them in this endeavour" (Montessori, 1992, 16). This distinction should not be underestimated as it represents a truly important aspect of the Montessori process: by acknowledging the truly unique variety of personalities, Montessori sought to nurture the uniqueness of children, rather than squelch it as so many other educational methods do. Montessori thus empowered children to develop inner structures out of which their personality could evolve, on their own terms and according to their own experience (1992).
Montessori readily connected these needs and conditions with the condition of the environment: "First, it should be attractive, aesthetically and practically, from e standpoint of children of different age groups, but reflect that amount of organization and order necessary for a community to function properly. The rules used to achieve this should be valid for all" (Montessori, 1992, p.18). The fact that Montessori readily acknowledges how profoundly the environment can affect the people in it is indeed demonstrative of the fact that she understands certain innate aspects of human development and nature. In fact, this belief in many ways is reflective of the theories of a range of highly esteemed thinks and theoreticians who have made a big impact on society. For instance, Florence Nightingale was the first person in the medical community to write extensively on how one's environment can have a profound impact on an individual and can greatly impeded or encourage the healing process as a whole. Nightingale encouraged an environment that was clean, light and airy in aiding the healing of the sick. Montessori encouraged an environment that made children feel comfortable and explorative, allowing them to take risks, while balancing a certain level of freedom in relation to their individual needs.
Another aspect which makes Montessori educational philosophy so effective and thus, so distinctive is that it takes into account that humans are social creatures (1992). Too many schools and teachers seek to inhibit the social quality of children, forcing them to sit at desks and to not talk, all in the name of generating "good behavior." The problem with this is that it doesn't incorporate the inherent social qualities of human beings and how those social qualities can foster the learning and development process. "Man is, above all, a social being. That is, he is dependent on his social environment not only for his physical survival but for his psychic and spiritual development. Of all living creatures, he alone possesses language. Language is not the product and possession of an individual, but of society" (Montessori, 1992, 33).
All of these ideas and concepts revolved around the notion that "education has an indispensable role in the formation of man. Without some kind of interaction with a human being whereby a minimum of cultural data is transmitted, a newborn child cannot complete the basic development necessary to become one of its species" (Montessori, 1992, p.55). This notion alone demonstrates just how cohesive the entire Montessori approach is. In order to function more fully as a social member of society, Montessori saw education as a very crucial and valuable fundamental aspect of this process. However, Montessori saw that the role of education had to function in a manner which was more organic to the overall process of human development. Human interaction was thus viewed as a crucial part of education, but also, a crucial part of being a member of one's own human race. Just as education plays an important role in the way in which a person learns, it also plays a huge role in the way in which the personality develops and functions (Montessori, 1992). Just as all of these experiences are so crucial to the role of the human being in society, they also inform the way in which a human being will be able to help adapt to a changing world. The educational and explorative experiences an adult has as a child can absolutely shape how he engages with the world, nature and how he interprets his findings. Thus, it's so important to not stifle the child during these formative learning times, but to encourage discovery and interaction with a range of materials designed for learning.
Education and the Formation of Man
One of the truly notable aspects of the entire Montessori educational experience is that Montessori viewed education as an indelible aspect of the human experience and absolutely crucial for develop of the human character and personality. Montessori's comments about society's preoccupation with social order are indeed revelatory about why so many schools function in such a generic manner and with an emphasis on the narrowness of structure: "Also our outer social organization needs order as its foundation. Social laws regulating the conduct of citizens and the e force which controls them are of basic necessity in a social structure" (Montessori, 1955, p.33). While this sheds light on why so many schools are carbon copies of one another even though they may be ineffective, it also highlights the underlying fear of society: with a desire for order comes a fear of chaos. Children are being taught in an overlying structured environment in most public schools because of an inherent lack of imagination and a desire for children to all exhibit the same "good behavior." The danger with this is that it can too easily create a situation where the desired behavior is that children act like carbon copies of one another, a goal which is not only impossible, but also undesirable. The rigid structure of public schools creates a backdrop where personalities cannot flourish as they should and real individuality cannot develop. Furthermore, it can be fascinating to see how bad behavior develops in such cases: "We can now state with certainty that the naughtiness of young children represents a disorder regarding the natural laws psychic life in course of construction. It is not does compromise the future normality of the…[continue]
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