“Help me so I can do it myself”
THE MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY
The Montessori approach to education is grounded in the belief that children have a dynamic inner desire to explore and learn about their environment.
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), the Italian physician who formulated this method, had a particular genius for observing children as they really are, rather than as adults wish them to be. Dr Montessori’s writings suggest to both parents and teachers many advantageous conditions for the natural development of the whole child from birth to maturity.
In the words of Dr. Montessori:
“Education is not something which the teacher does, but is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to word, but by virtue of experience in which the child acts on his environment . . . We must offer the child the help he needs, and be at his service so that he does not have to walk alone.”
The prepared environment is the cornerstone of the Montessori Method. It invites exploration and leads the child naturally from the concrete to the abstract. The classroom teacher is the link between the child and the environment.
The Montessori motto therefore is,
Help me so I can do it myself
Motivating all Montessori’s educational efforts was her continuous desire to create a better and more peaceful world by nurturing the spirit of each child. This nurturing helps children to see that they are called to a higher purpose than self-service or self-satisfaction. It includes time for silence and reflection, cultivating awe and wonder, respecting nature, caring for the earth, understanding and accepting others, and fostering virtues such as love, kindness and compassion.
THE 12 POINTS OF MONTESSORI
- It is based on years of patient observation of child nature by the greatest educational genius since Froebel.
- It has proved itself of universal application. Within a single generation, it has been tried with complete success with children of almost every civilized nation. Race, color, climate, social rank, type of civilisation, all these make no difference to its successful application.
- It has revealed the small child as a lover of work, intellectual work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy.
- It is based on the child’s imperious need to learn by doing. At each stage in the child’s growth, corresponding occupations are provided by means of which he develops his faculties.
- While it offers the child a maximum of spontaneity, it nevertheless enables him to reach the same, or even higher, level of scholastic attainment as under the old system.
- Though it does away with the necessity of coercion by means of reward and punishments, it achieves a higher discipline than formerly. It is an active discipline which originates within the child and is not imposed from without.
- It is based on a profound respect for the child’s personality and removes from him the preponderating influence of the adult, thus leaving him room to grow in biological independence. Hence the child is allowed a large measure of liberty (not license) which forms the basis for real discipline.
- It enables the teacher to deal with each child individually in each subject, and thus guide him according to his individual requirements.
- Each child works at his own pace. Hence the quick child is not held back by the slow, nore is the latter, in trying to keep up with the former, obliged, to flounder along hopelessly out of his depth. Each stone in the mental edifice is “well and truly laid” before the next is added.
- It does away with the competitive spirit and its train of baneful results. More than this, at every turn, it represents endless opportunities among the children for mutual help – which is joyfully given and gratefully received.
- Since the child works from his own free choice, without competition and coercion, he is free from the danger of overstrain, feeling of inferiority, and other experiences which are apt to be the unconscious cause of profound mental disturbances later in life.
- Finally, the MONTESSORI METHOD develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual faculties, but also his powers of deliberation, initiative, and independent choice with their emotional complement. By living as a free member of a real society, the child is trained in those fundamental social qualities which for the basis of good citizenship.