Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Montessori method is described as a way of about thinking about who children are. As a philosophy, it emphasizes the unique individuality of each child. Dr. Montessori believed in the worthiness, value and importance of children. Comparisons to norms and standards measured by traditional educational systems are discouraged in Montessori practice. Instead, Montessori adherents believe that children should be free to succeed and learn without restriction or criticism.
As an educational approach, the Montessori method's central focus is on the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. Montessori practitioners believe children learn best in their own way at their own pace. The driving concept is the fostering of the child's natural joy of learning. This joy of learning, according to Montessori theory, is an innate part of any child; when properly guided and nurtured it results in a well-adjusted person who has a purpose and direction in his or her life. Children who experience the joy of learning are believed to be happy, confident, and fulfilled. In essence Montessori helps bring forth the giftedness of each child.
Additional important skills emphasized by the Montessori method are self-reliance and independence. Independence is encouraged by teaching a child "practical life" skills, as well as by keeping the child in charge of his or her own education. The child controls the pace, topic and repetition of lessons independent of the rest of the class or of the teacher. Montessori preschool children learn to dress themselves, help cook, put their toys and clothes away and take an active part of their household, neighborhood and school; Montessori education carried through the elementary and high school years begins to encourage more group work but still relies on the student as the guide and guardian of his or her own intellectual development.
Montessori works in a methodical way. Each step in the process leads to the next level of learning. When a child plays, he or she is really learning concepts for later learning. Repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this learning process.
For young children, Montessori is a hands-on approach to learning. It encourages children to develop their observation skills by doing many types of activities. These activities include use of the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, small and large motor skill coordination, and concrete knowledge that leads to later abstraction.
For a grade school child Montessori encourages a child to proceed at his or her own pace onto abstract thinking, writing, reading, science, mathematics and most importantly, to absorb his or her culture and environment. Culture includes interaction with nature, art, music, religion, societal organizations, and customs.
A Montessori teacher or instructor observes each child like a scientist, providing every child with an individual program for learning. Phoebe Child, head of the Montessori trust in London, said "we must be prepared to wait patiently like a servant, to watch carefully like a scientist, and to understand through love and wonder like a saint."
Home schoolers may find both the philosophy and the materials useful to them since each child is treated as an individual and since activities are self-contained, self-correcting, and expandable.
Most of all, Dr. Montessori wanted to help free a child's mind to be unfettered to learn without any negative input. The Montessori method is success oriented in that almost everything is self-teaching and self-correcting. The children learn by doing and by experimentation. The environment is specifically prepared for the children to allow them to interact with it freely and unfettered, everything is child sized, and safe for children to touch and use. In fact, Dr. Montessori called her center The Children's House.
The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. In fact, in a Montessori classroom everything is oriented to the child: there is no teacher's desk or teacher's side of the room, because the teacher is only guide and facilitator, never dictator or director. An understanding parent or teacher is a large part of this child's world. The end result is to encourage life-long learning and reinforce the pleasure of encountering and mastering a new skill or idea. The child thus retains and reinforces his or her joy of learning, rather than having it buried under rote memorization or mass production, and is free to explore his or her own path and purpose in life.
Montessori programs in public schools
A survey conducted in 1981 collected data from 25 of the approximately 50 school districts nationwide known to have Montessori programs at the time (Chattin-McNichols, 1981). The only other study of public Montessori programs is much more recent. During school year 1990-91, this study received responses from 63 of the 120 school districts or schools to whom surveys were sent (Michlesen and Cummings, 1991). Results from this study indicate that the number of students in the schools or school districts averaged 233, with an average of 10 teachers per program. A total of 32, or 58%, of the schools surveyed reported that they were magnet schools. A total of 69% of the Montessori programs shared a building with other programs. District funding for the training of Montessori teachers was provided in 66% of the districts. Only 42% of the programs provided the three-year age span of three-, four-, and five-year-olds. This is indicative of the fact that the degree to which particular districts implement the Montessori model varies.
A total of 16 of the 57 schools charged tuition for some part of the program. About two thirds of the programs provided free transportation. In addition, two thirds of the districts reported that additional staff were used in the Montessori magnet schools. These factors can add to the overall costs of the program.
"I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori method."
- -- Dr. Maria Montessori.
- Multiage Education Thesis - A review and historical details.
- What is The Montessori method - source article
- Montessori Programs in Public Schools. ERIC Digest.
- The Montessori Foundation
- Montessori Association of New Zealand
- Montessori Stores - Source for Montessori materials and manipulatives
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