The freedom to choose… the freedom to be…

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During the hot period of preparation for the finals on December, I was accidentally introduced to the bibliography of outstanding and extraordinary lady. Her philosophy, approach, dedication and methods amazed me at once and forever.

Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian, beautiful woman, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Price for three times, who revolutionized education all around the world, who could show us that every child is “universe” on evidence based on practice…

Well, as it is know, better to see once, than to hear a hundred times. Thus, giving explicit answer on Montessori Education Theory, I suggest you to find some time and watch the documentary, in order to be introduced with extraodinary person  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXqeTYHn0p4.

So let’s discover what I makes this lady exceptional?

The Montessori Education Theory.

Being primarily interested in children with limited abilities, Dr. Montessori succeeded in identification of child’s development stages in general. During each phase child develop certain skills, since those stages consist of set goals for learning: the development of an individual self, social development, the ‘birth’ of the adult phase, and the mature phase (p.52).

  1. Independence

Montessori education theory’s motto is directly associated independence. Classrooms, equipment, and methodology are designed with the core aim to make child independent, by giving opportunities to move, to help adults, to dress themselves, and to choose what to do. It might seem very simple, but those little things in early years can help the children to increase their self-belief, self-confidence and esteem that will support them throughout their life.

  1. Observation

Watching or observing is a miracle key to understand and discover child’s potential.   It is unbelievable how child can spend countless hours on enjoying certain activities and exploring the environment. Maria Montessori did the same, she observed children without prejudiced ideas that helped her to develop materials and activities that children need.

For example, if a child starts banging on objects, it means he or she has a need for that gross motor activity, so it is recommended to provide that child with a drum. If children are pushing things around the room and they need to walk but can’t do it themselves yet, help them by giving them a wagon to push. This is how observation can help create harmony, fulfilling the child’s current needs.

  1. Following The Child

“Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori.

Dr. Montessori invited parents and educators to feel the child; she wanted adults to be attentive to the child’s wish and intention. That strategy suggests giving freedom to the children in a safe manner , without overprotection. At the same time,  parents should be near by in order set limits.

  1. Correcting The Child

The adults must CORRECT mistaken child in a nice and accurate manner. It is wonderful way to teach the child to eat, drink, play accurately without rising the voice, instead explaining them their mistake and asking to fix (“oh you’ve spilled the water… why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up.”). Correcting them, parents become trustful partner, instead of intimidating educators.

  1. Prepared Environment

According to Maria Montessori, the prepared environment is the link between society, in which children live, and the adults, from whom they learn. Consequently, one of the adult’s main roles is to prepare environment in which children will learn. For instance, Montessori claims that children’s play is their work and they  truly enjoy it (p.56).  For this reason, development of child directly depends on the environment (room size, availability of choice, set activities).

  1. Absorbent Mind

It is amazing that children can learn to speak without anyone teaching them. They easily pick up adults’ language and simply absorb everything in the environment, which means that children are “absorbent mind” (p.42) . Therefore, it is essential to be the environment calm, nice, and positive because child will absorb it anyway. As a rule, many parents do not want to receive categorical answer “No” from their children. In such cases, Dr. Montessori recommends not to use negative words, like  “No” or “Impossible” in their speech. Instead, it is better to use “Stop”, when there is a necessity.

To sum up, the power of observation and knowldege enabled this extrodinary resaercher to developed a child as an explorer within the natural environment. In fact, she believed that each child is an individual and should be encouraged to work at the pace that is right for him or her. Thus,  Montessori educational methods does not have grades or tests and children are never in competition with each other.

What do you think about Montessori Method? Does freedom play major role in life of our children? Can you imagine such free and soft educational environment which have to teach children to survive in 21st century?

Reference

Montessori M. (1972). The Montessori Method. Chicago: Regnery. pp 42 – 93.

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