A teaching approach comprises the principles and methods used for the delivery of lessons and very often it is influenced by the information and skill learned and nonetheless the enthusiasm felt by the teacher herself. As an aspiring teacher, I have always been awed and motivated by Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori’s philosophy and methods. Montessori’s learning approach is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. Montessori’s method promotes an educational environment which meets the basic human characteristics and specific characteristics of children at different ages. The function of the environment is to allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives. A Montessori environment exhibits the following characteristics: Self-Directed Learning
The Montessori approach is child centred and allows each and every child an opportunity to grow and learn in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competition, according to his or her own true nature. Montessori based her approach on the belief that real learning must take place through the spontaneous activity of children in a non-competitive environment, which promotes a joy of learning and the development of self- discipline. Prepared Environment
Believing that the environment should aid and foster the child’s development throughout life, Maria Montessori designed the Prepared Environment – a classroom environment to satisfy the child’s differing needs. Children work with concrete materials, which isolate important concepts and skills. Many of these materials are self-correcting. Activities are self-directed so that children have a sense of control over their own learning and are able to follow their own interests. Self-Discipline
At school, children work spontaneously in a prepared environment. Within limits, they are free to choose their own work, and work at their own pace,
to move around and communicate with others in the classroom. The limits imposed are in relation to the collective interest and this means that children learn to have respect for the rights and safety of others and for the environment. They learn to be careful with materials, to help other children and to become a co-operative member of the group. The function of the teacher in a Montessori classroom differs considerably from that of the traditional teacher; hence, Dr Montessori used the term “Directress”. The teacher’s role in the Montessori classroom is that of a facilitator, observer, and caretaker of the prepared environment. The teacher is the child’s link to the environment. The teacher carefully prepares the environment by providing stimulating objects and by removing obstacles to learning. Typically a teacher will give a lesson to an individual child or to a small group, and then step back to allow the child to pursue the work independently. The teacher will continue to observe the child to help overcome difficulties and redirect the child’s interest when necessary. The mutual respect of the student and the teacher-guide are the most important factor in this process. Maria Montessori strongly encouraged collaboration with co-teachers, parents and even the community as she believed that this collaboration was a vital part of improving and enriching classroom instruction and management. Collaborating with other adults is also exemplary of peace education for your students. Setting aside a regular time to discuss ideas, curriculum, and other classroom issues with your co-teachers and parents with an open and cooperative approach is sure to create an enriching experience for you and your students. It is my personal belief and experience that children attending Montessori schools tend to be competent, self-disciplined, socially well adjusted, and happy. As such, if I had an opportunity to choose a certain teaching approach, it will be very much based on Dr Maria Montessori’s beliefs and methods.
(The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” Maria Montessori)