Spontaneous Observer of Nature
“A child who,more than anything else, is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal material upon which he can work - Spontaneous Observer of Nature introduction. ” As our lives become more technologically advanced and driven many children have very little access to a natural habitat in their neighbourhood environment. Young children develop their sensory,cognitive,gross and motor skills while in relationship to the natural world. The function of the school is to supply children with interesting information and motives for action.
A child,who more than anyone else is a spontaneous observer of nature,certainly needs to have at his/or her disposal,materials upon which he/or she can work”-Dr. Maria Montessori. Childern in bed to explore the environment from the first moment after birth. Even if they appear helpless,motionless infants are exploring in their cribs. It is an invisible exploration of hearing,looking etc. The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself. A single observation is enough to prove this.
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The child grows up speaking his parent’s tongue,yet to grownups the learning of the language is a very great intellectual achievement. No one teaches the child. The goal of the Montessori method is to develop the child’s sensory and cognitive skills, while at the same time enhancing the child’s practical life skills and building his character. The child (Absorbent Mind) between birth and age six, the child has a unique ability to learn and assimilate anything surrounding him, without any effort and in a completely unconscious way.
In Montessori’s words, “The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself. By absorbing what he finds about him, he forms his own personality. He constructs his mind step by step till he becomes possessed of memory, the power to understand, the ability to think. ” (Montessori 1949: 84-85) One discovery followed another, giving Montessori an increasingly clear view of the inner mind of the child. She found that little children were capable of long periods of quiet concentration, even though they rarely show signs of it in everyday settings. Although they are often careless and sloppy, hey respond positively to an atmosphere of calm and order. Montessori noticed that the logical extension of the young child’s love for a consistent and often repeated routine is an environment in which everything has a place. Her children took tremendous delight in carefully carrying their work to and from the shelves, taking great pains not to bump into anything or spill the smallest piece. They walked carefully through the rooms, instead of running wildly as they did on the streets. Montessori discovered that the environment itself was all-important in obtaining the results that she had observed.
Not wanting to use heavy school desks, she had carpenters build child-sized tables and chairs. She was the first to do so, recognizing the frustration that a little child experiences in an adult-sized world. Eventually she learned to design entire schools around the size of the children. She had miniature pitchers and bowls prepared and found knives that fit a child’s tiny hand. The tables were lightweight, allowing two children to move them alone. The children learned to control their movements, disliking the way the calm atmosphere was disturbed when they knocked into the furniture.
Montessori studied the traffic pattern of the rooms, arranging the furnishings and the activity area to minimize congestion and tripping. The children loved to sit on the floor, so she bought little rugs to define their work areas and the children quickly learned to walk around work that other children had laid out on their rugs. Montessori carried this environmental engineering throughout the entire school building and outside environment, designing child-sized toilets and low sinks, windows low to the ground, low shelves, and miniature hand and garden tools of all sorts.
Many of these ideas were eventually adapted by the larger educational community, particularly at the nursery and kindergarten levels. Many of the puzzles and educational devices in use at the pre-school and elementary levels in the early twenty-first century are direct copies of Montessori’s original ideas. However, there is far more of her work that never entered the mainstream, and twenty-first-century educators who are searching for new, more effective answers are finding the accumulated experience of the Montessori community to be of great interest.
The chief components of the Montessori method are self-motivation and autoeducation. Followers of the Montessori method believe that a child will learn naturally if put in an environment containing the proper materials. These materials, consisting of “learning games” suited to a child’s abilities and interests, are set up by a teacher-observer who intervenes only when individual help is needed. In this way, Montessori educators try to reverse the traditional system of an active teacher instructing a passive class.
The typical classroom in a Montessori school consists of readily available games and toys, household utensils, plants and animals that are cared for by the children, and child-sized furniture-the invention of which is generally attributed to Dr. Montessori. Montessori educators also stress physical exercise, in accordance with their belief that motor abilities should be developed along with sensory and intellectual capacities. The major outlines of the Montessori system are based on Dr. Montessori’s writings, which include The Montessori Method (1912), Pedagogical Anthropology (1913), The Advanced Montessori Method (2 vol. 1917), and The Secret of Childhood (1936). Too much freedom, however, without channeling one’s energies towards a task, would be meaningless to the child. At the same time, organization and discipline would be useless without the freedom to make use of them according to the child’s preferences and choices. The two principles, then, must mutually interplay. The ultimate goal of childhood education should be the formation of an autonomous, self-regulating, free individual. The child naturally strives for functional independence, and so he should be just supported in achieving higher and higher levels of it.
Far from being spoon-fed, he should be helped to learn how to help himself. A child’s living should be in complete harmony with his surrounding environment. This goal is usually achieved through letting him work on a freely chosen task, in which he can concentrate and be fully absorbed. Even the most disorderly, stubborn, or disobedient children, when involved in constructive work, become normalized and start showing enthusiasm, generosity, and helpfulness towards the other children working with them. Preparation of the Environment: the typical Montessori classroom is carefully prepared by the teacher in all its details.
It must include all the essential elements that can contribute to the children’s learning at each given stage of their development, and nothing superfluous or distracting. Essential features of the prepared environment are: beauty, order, simplicity, and accessibility. All objects are colorful, shiny, and appealing to the senses; furniture is child-size and lightweight, so that the child can easily move it at his will around the classroom. A trained teacher and a large enough group of children are another vital aspect of the prepared environment .
It is important for children to belong to slightly different age groups, since the age difference enhances mutual cooperation and learning according to Montessori (AMI website; Hainstock 1997). All the furniture and appurtenances are scaled down to the child size. Even the sink with real running water is down at the child’s level. There are about one thousand different intriguing didactic “activities” arrayed on the low shelves, just begging to be explored by the child’s mind; yet there is not a single toy in the room.
The child sized brooms, dustpans, buckets, and mops are meant and expected to be used for the same purpose adults use theirs. The key role of the teacher is that of observing the child and letting him express himself. Education to her is not so much the result of what the teacher does, but rather a spontaneous process that unfolds in every human being at its own pace. The teacher’s role is to create a joyful and stimulating classroom environment, encourage the children in all their efforts, and by so doing allow them to develop self-confidence and self-discipline.
Hence, if at the beginning of each educational level the teacher has a more active role (e. g. , by demonstrating the use of materials and presenting the available activities), she then has to become a “constructive observer”, i. e. , one who knows exactly when, and how much, to intervene, if at all. Each classroom can also have the vegetables,herbs and flower garden to do the gardening activity. Children can themselves decide what plant they want to grow. This helps the children to know the knowledge of the growth of the plant and also the essential facts needed for the plant growth and also care for the environment.
Same manner the classroom can have apet corner to have their pets. Children can explore what type of food should be given to that particular pet. They will also know animals need them. So they should care them. They also can have the atlas corner to explore geography and cultures in different parts of the world. Itard in his classic work,decribes in detail the extrordinary drama of an education aimed at despelling the mental darkness of an idiot and rescuing a child from the state of savagery.
The savage of aveyron was an abandoned child that had grown up in purely natural surroundings. Itard who was interested in philosophy ,as a physician had specialized in the defects of deaf mutes,undertook the boys education,using means that already proved to be partialiy successfulin resorting hearing to people who were almost deaf. itard divided the education of this boy into two phases. In the first he sought to bring him within the bounds of ordinary social life. In the second he attempted to educate the mind of the idiot.
The boy took his delight in rain,strom,snow and boundless vitas for these had been the object of his vision,his compassionand his love. Civic life means renuncation of all this ,but it brings with it a conquest that facilitates human progress. Itard made the child to a civilize state. This means he need the child surrounding with loving care. For a long time ,it was thought that the nature had only a moral influence on the education of the child. Efforts were made to develop a sensible response to the marvels of nature to flowers,plant, animals ,landscapes winds and light.
The most important thing to do is to free the child,If possible from the ties which keep him in the isolated in the artificial life of a city-The discovery of the child(page 67). Let the children be free,encourage them let them run outside when it is raining,let them remove their shoes ,when they find the puddle of water and when the grass of meadows is dump with dew let them run on and trample it with their bare feet. The strength of even the smallest children is more than we imagine,but it must have a free play to reveal itself. When children comes into contact with nature,they reveal their strength.
The place of nature in education in school can fix the attention of a child on special objects which will show exactly how far he has been able to stir up himself a feeling for nature. Children have an anxious concerns for living beings and the satisfaction of this instinct fill them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in caring of plants and animals. When he knows that animals have need of him,the little plants will dry up if he does not water them he binds together with a new thread of love today’s passing moments with those of tomorrow.
Children indeed love flowers,but they need to do something more than remain among them and contemplate their coloured blossoms. They find the greatest pleasure in acting,in knowing,in exploring even from the attraction of external beauty. Even the smallest children likes to gather the olives and they perform truly useful work in the dilligent search they make for the fallen fruits which they put in the basket. From these experements the children derives an interest in sowing of seeds on a larger scale. The growth of so many frail and tender plants gives greater pleasure to the eye and mind.
Work for a child must possess some variety within itself. A child does not have to know the reason for sowing or reaping to have his interest aroused. He will readily undertake very simple actions which have an immediate end or which permit him to use some special effort. The Montessori classroom is a stimulating, child-centered environment, purposefully prepared and thoughtfully organized to invite exploration and facilitate independent, hands-on learning. Children engage in an exciting process of discovery, proceeding at their own pace and according to their own needs, interests, talents, and readiness.
Their work includes real life activities with a sense of purpose as well as the use of scientifically designed, self-correcting materials. Children almost effortlessly absorb knowledge from their surroundings; that they learn best through their own physical activity and senses; that they consistently strive to become ever more capable and independent; that they move through predictable planes of development while retaining their unique individuality; and that they experience “sensitive periods” for learning certain concepts(Mastro Montessori)
In a classroom that mixes younger children and older ones, as well as new students and experienced ones, younger children gain maturity and a sense of what lies ahead by watching and emulating their older classmates. They do not hesitate to ask for assistance. Older children offer it spontaneously, sharing knowledge and helping with activities in ways that consolidate and strengthen their own learning. Best of all, the classroom becomes a community where children of all ages come to accept one another and to treat each other with kindness and respect.
Our Outdoor environment should be designed to appeal the natural desire of the child to explore the world around him. It should be with the natural elements,water,rock,wood, sand ,stone , grass and bark to facilitate furthur exploration of nature. A pond with waterfall can be made. This helps the children know about aquatic plants and animals. Study about water pollution and water conservation. Care for aquatic plants and animals. The key to the success of our outdoor environment is preparing our environment with purposeful, engaging activities that are hands-on, real and practical.
We should structure the environment in such a way that children can make discoveries on their own. Montessori uses the term “prepared environment”. This refers to an environment that is designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. Such an environment provides a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. Tools, materials and activities are placed outside on designated shelves, they are in order and they are aesthetically pleasing. At all times, children have access to these tools and activities.
Gardening, animal care, nature discovery and physical activities are incorporated into the living landscape. Once the environment became more established, sustainable practices, such as recycling, catching rainwater, wormery, composting, and waste reduction followed as children started to take care of their environment. Our Outdoor environment should be designed to appeal the natural desire of the child to explore the world around him. It should be with the natural elements,water,rock,wood, sand ,stone , grass and bark to facilitate furthur exploration of nature.