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Dr. Maria Montessori, “The Montessori Philosophy”
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)
Maria Montessori was the first Italian woman to become a medical doctor when she graduated from The University of Rome Medical School in 1896. Her medical practice initially led her to work with children. She spent two years observing these children, studying the research of other educational professionals, and preparing her own original materials. Maria Montessori developed a teaching program the enabled “defective” children to read and write. She sought to teach skills not by having children repeatedly try it, but by developing exercise that prepare them. These exercises would then be repeated: Looking becomes reading, touching becomes writing.
The success of her method then caused to ask questions of normal education and the ways in which failed them. Dr. Montessori has the chance to test her program and ideas with the establishment of the first Casa Dei Bambini (Children’s house or household) in Rome in 1907. This house had been built as part of slum redevelopment. This house and those that followed were designed to provide a good environment for children to live and learn. An emphasis was on self-determination and self-realization. This entailed developing a concern for others and discipline and to do this children engaged in the exercise of daily living. These and other exercises were to function like a ladder allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress. The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s complete personality.
This connected with a further element in the Montessori program – “child centered learning” not teacher centered learning. The teacher was the “keeper” of the environment. While children got on with their activities the task was to observe and to intervene from the periphery. The focus on self-realization through independent activity, the concern with attitude, and the focus on the educator as the keeper of the environment (and making use of the scientific powers of observation and reflection) – all have some echo in the work of informal educators. However, it is Dr. Montessori notion of the Children’s House as a stimulating environment in which participants can learn to take responsibility that has a particular resonance.
Princeton Ave Montessori – The Montessori Philosophy
Dr. Montessori believed that children learn best by doing, not by passively accepting other people’s ideas and pre-existing knowledge. Believing that young child had more potential than the educators realized, she began to develop this potential by teaching the young child through their natural interest in exploring the world. The child’s developmentally appropriate approach was designed to individually accommodate each child’s unique abilities.
Princeton Ave Montessori utilizes the Montessori Method of education and materials developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. The goal of Princeton Ave Montessori is to help children become responsible, self-motivated learners competent in all areas of life. Each of our classrooms encourages the natural appetite of the child by offering age-appropriate materials to satisfy the child’s intense desire for knowledge. A child who acquires basic skills of reading and mathematics in this natural way has the advantage of beginning their education without pressure, boredom or discouragement. By pursuing his or her individual interests in our classroom at an early age, they gain an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key to becoming a truly educated person. The Directress works towards developing the child’s sense of order, concentration and coordination. Princeton Ave Montessori, Pre-K and Kindergarten program builds, Early Childhood experience with the child’s own questions providing the basis for exploration of the world. The Princeton Ave Montessori environment promotes self-esteem, encourages fundamental motivation, spontaneous activity and self education. Princeton Ave Montessori education teaches a child respect for one’s self, others, and the environment. The Montessori Method allows each child to ability to obtain a good self-image enabling them to feel secure, independent and self-confident. The fundamental motivation of a Montessori education is to guide the child to grow in knowledge and strength as a whole person and thus gain the practical skills and insight into initiating his success in their future life.
Montessori Philosophy: Each Child is a Unique Person
The Montessori philosophy was largely based upon Maria Montessori’s observations of children in her classrooms. These observations formed the basis for the idea that Montessori education is child-directed. Since every child is different and has different skills and needs for development, Maria Montessori believed that if an adult watches and listens carefully, the adult can prepare an environment in which a child can thrive.
Maria Montessori believed that each child possesses a unique individual pattern that determines much of her personality, temperament, skills and abilities. Montessori called this pattern, “a spiritual embryo”, as it is determined before birth. This pattern, she believed is revealed only during the process of development, so a great importance is placed on the quality of a child’s environment, activities and her freedom to develop.
A child easily gains knowledge when she passes through a Sensitive Period. When a child shows an interest in a particular subject whether it be walking, speaking, potty training or reading she is passing through a sensitive period. Not all children pass through a sensitive period at the same age. By offering a child the right activities at the right time, Montessori aids a child’s development through natural acquisition. Multi-age Montessori classrooms offer a variety activities for the various sensitive periods within that age group.
Maria Montessori first compared a child’s mind to a sponge that absorbs information. A child’s absorbs all she sees, hears, tastes, smells and touches to gain knowledge. Every child has different life experiences, however all Montessori activities can build upon each foundation in an individual way to create memories, problem solving, reasoning, understanding and, of course, absorption.
The Montessori method focuses on the child’s environment and the teacher who organizes the environment, Maria Montessori outlined the six components to a Montessori environment as freedom, structure and order, reality and nature, beauty and atmosphere, the Montessori materials, and the development of community life.
Maria Montessori Quotes
Maria Montessori quotes from her various books about different aspects of Montessori education. Maria Montessori had a lot of profound ideas and is no better way to express them other way then in quotations using her own beautiful words.
A parent asked, “Well, won't it be a problem if my child attends a Montessori school for six years and enters the public school so far ahead?”
To which Maria Montessori replied: “If you knew a famine was going to take place in six years, would you starve yourself for those six years in preparation?”
“A child is mysterious and powerful; and contains within himself the secret of human nature.”
“A child needs freedom within limits.”
“A child who has become master of his acts through long, pleasant and interesting activities, in which he has engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.”
“A man is not what he is because of the teachers he has had, but because of what he has done.”
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”
“Children are not only sensitive to silence, but also to a voice which calls them ... Out of that silence.”
“Do not tell them how to do it. Show them how to do it and do not say a word. If you tell them, they will watch your lips move. If you show them, they will want to do it themselves.”
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”
“Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world.”
“Help me do it alone.”
“It is the spirit of the child that can determine the course of human progress and lead it perhaps even to a higher form of civilization.”
“It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to teach child the chance to fulfil his potential possibilities.”
“Making use of his own will in his contact with his environment, he (the child) develops his various facilities and thus becomes in a sense his own creator. We should regard this secret effort of the child as something sacred.”
“No one can be free if he is not independent...”
“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”
“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.”
“Social grace, inner discipline and joy. These are the birthright of the human being who has been allowed to develop essential human qualities.”
“The child who seeks to be heard and is wounded by rejection often withdraws in a far more dangerous fashion than mere submission.”
“The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”
“The teacher's task is not a small easy one! She has to prepare a huge amount of knowledge to satisfy the child's mental hunger. She is not like the ordinary teacher, limited by a syllabus. The needs of the child are clearly more difficult to answer.”
“This is the treasure we need today - helping the child become Independent of us and make his way by himself, receiving in return his gifts of hope and light.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori