What is Montessori Education?
Montessori education is the practice of allowing children to learn based on self-driven curiosity and interests instead of following a stereotypical curriculum or any form of strictly guided learning.
Developed in the 1900s by an Italian physician named Maria Montessori, this method of learning focuses on different aspects than traditional schooling. While traditional education consists of strict curriculums, learning at a set pace, and a lectured approach, the Montessori method of education approaches learning with a more self-driven outlook.
With the Montessori method of learning, students are given guidance via a curriculum that is not as structured as one might think. Students are still given guidance but at their own pace and with their own interests in mind. This method allows for a more child-focused approach to learning that brings not only a cognitive aspect to the classroom but a psychological, social, and physical component as well.
What does Montessori mean?
Montessori is a scientifically based method of education that has become increasingly prevalent since its inception in the 1900s. The name “Montessori” is derived from the Italian physician who developed the scientific approach to education, Maria Montessori.
The entire Montessori approach is centered around the belief that children are unique in their own ways and need to learn as such. This is why Montessori schools develop curriculums that allow children to learn through limited guidance and place an emphasis on learning at their own pace. Moreso, the educational method is focused on creating students who are more able to think critically, be more confident, and overall express more creativity in their daily lives.
What is the Montessori philosophy?
The Montessori Philosophy governs the idea that education should be centered around the child and their interests rather than a generic public school curriculum.
This educational philosophy is designed to fulfill the ever-changing desires of a developing adolescent. As such, abstract ideologies and philosophies are unearthed steadily over time as the children veer farther and farther away from solid, factual representations. With this in mind, we can visualize the Montessori philosophy at work; the emphasis of process over the emphasis of a final product. Moreso, the priority of the process is what allows the children to develop at their own pace. It reinstates the Montessori philosophy of setting their own goals, cognitively developing at their own pace, and reaching new milestones made attainable by discovering their interests.
What is the Montessori method of education?
The Montessori method of education is founded around seven core principles that allow children to learn at their own pace and develop based on their own unique educational goals.
As defined by the Montessori School of Mallorca, these principles are what the Montessori method of education is scientifically founded on:
- Free Choice – The Montessori method highlights free choice as a key contributing factor to success in this type of learning. When a student is given the ability to make more decisions in their everyday lives, it promotes a sense of control over their being. This has limits set by instructors, although they are significantly less strict than that of public schooling programs.
- Order – Having organization and structure within the classroom has proven to be very helpful with the development and learning of young adults. As a result of this, you will often see Montesorri classrooms that are very economically organized, have efficient and methodical floor plans, and overall promote the physical organization of the classroom.
- Interest – This principle is founded on the fact that a student learns best when they are interested in a given topic. Studies have shown that when students are taught a given curriculum, interested or not, the factual information that they are being taught tends to be forgotten quicker than that of students who learn about things they are interested in.
- Learning From Piers – Being able to learn from your fellow students is essential in a Montessori classroom. This allows for students to observe, interact with, and ask questions about what others students are doing/interested in. Not only does this allow them to build on their social skills but it also offers them a chance to explore more diverse interests that otherwise might not have been discovered.
- Movement – Montessori classrooms are designed with the principle of movement in mind. As a result, the classrooms vary drastically from that of a standard public school. Where you would normally find desks and chairs in a public school, you might find an art easel, bean bag chair, tables, or a problem-solving area designed for critical thinking in a Montessori classroom. Overall, this free movement in the classroom allows their cognitive ability to move along with the students wandering minds instead of being tied down to a desk all day.
- Context – Learning by doing is one of the main principles in a Montessori classroom. Instead of being lectured for multiple hours a day, students are encouraged to explore what they are interested in with the world at their disposal (within some limits of course).
- Teacher Guidance – Teacher guidance is essential in any school setting. In public schools, children are often given strict guidelines they need to adhere to or punishment will occur. In a Montessori school setting, students are given clear and simple guidance on what to do and what not to do. Once this boundary is established, they are given free rein inside of their pre-defined limits. Alongside this, instructors tend to take a very light authoritative stance. It can be observed as a sort of middle-ground stance that allows the children to make decisions for themselves but at the same time prevents students from indulging in excessively disruptive behavior.
What are Montessori schools like?
Montessori school settings vary slightly from school to school but all adopt the same key principles that allow for an organized, methodical, and educationally fostering environment for children of all ages to explore their interests.
Unlike public schools, Montessori school settings value a more progressive approach to education. This can be observed through teaching methods such as:
- Allowing students to develop and learn at their own pace.
- The lack of concrete grading systems such as that in public schools.
- The lack of formal lecturing to students.
- Long periods of educational focus that are typically 3-4 hours long.
- No formal testing and a very minimal amount of homework.
What does a Montessori classroom look like?
To foster the progressive nature of a Montessori school, the classrooms in the school are set up accordingly. There is an educational purpose for almost every element of the classroom.
Typically, you can observe a Montessori classroom to have a large and open space for the children to roam freely. You can also expect there to be no desks in the classroom – only tables, chairs, and open areas on the floor for students to sit.
Largely, these classroom designs are focused on promoting the free movement of the students in the classroom. These designs also foster group activities, which in turn allow the children to practice their social skills, ask questions, and uncover new interests to explore.
Inside these very neat and organized classrooms, you will also notice that the materials used for educating students are also very different than your average school. A lot of Montessori schools focus on appealing to the senses while working on the motor and sensory skills together. The following materials are common teaching materials:
|Motor Skills||Sensory Skills||Language Skills||Math Skills|
|– Washing Hands
– Scrubbing Dishes
– Cleaning Tables
|– Material Fabrics
– Bells and Sounds
|– Reading Books
– Printed Words
Montessori education is a progressive form of learning that allows students to explore their interests and learn by doing. Curriculums are looser when compared directly to typical public schooling which allows students to focus more on the process of learning instead of the final result.
If you are thinking about Montessori education as an option for your own children or are just looking for more information, we hope this helped you!