Montessori Education

Montessori Education

The Montessori approach to educating youth was first developed by a doctor from Italy named Maria Montessori. This educational program involves a large emphasis on the concept and practice of independence toward the children within the program, stressing the importance of the child’s organic unfolding of his or her mental development (i.e student-directed play, classrooms consisting of various-aged students, and unrestricted time to work). Currently, the Montessori approach has been adopted in roughly 30,000 educational institutions globally.

Theory

Religious Education1Basically, the Montessori approach reflects the psychological approach to human development. Montessori education has essentially two theoretical parts. The first consists of the belief that kids engage in self-development through the relationship they have with their immediate environment. Secondly, it’s believed that kids have a built-in, pre-existing path to their own mental development. Thus, if kids are given the environment where they can learn and behave freely, maximum self-development can occur.

Regarding the pre-existing paths to self-development in children, the Montessori approach emphasizes certain characteristics or tendencies in humans which can be drawn out and developed during the Montessori educational process. For example, exploration, repetition, and purposeful activity are some of the basic tendencies, along with self-preservation, communication, and abstraction. These development factors are viewed as being the driving force behind each period of psychological development in kids, and adults, thus according to the Montessori approach, a child’s education should maximize the facilitation of the expression of such tendencies.

Planes of Development

Happy child with a completed math problem on the blackboard

Emphasized within the Montessori approach are what are known as planes, or periods of development. According to Montessori, there are four planes that are recognized in the educational process, each corresponding to a specific age-range, and with specially-tailored learning approaches for kids that are in each stage. For example, the first plane (age range: birth to 6 years) consists of the child undergoing large strides in mental and bodily development, with a learning style characterized by sensory exploration and a growing independence. The second plane (6 years to twelve years of age), still has much mental and physical developing, along with a higher social herd instinct. Thus the Montessori classroom responds to such developing through engaging kids in social groups and work groups, to develop shared logic and creativity. Also, the second plane provides the opportunity for intellectual liberty and a sense of morality. The third plane (from twelve years to eighteen years) is generally looked at as the period of change known as puberty, but there are also major psychological shifts as well, specifically mental instability and issues with focus and attention, along with a boost in creative, abstract thinking and a new sense of personal pride and identity followed by a need for self-worth gained from the external world. Within the Montessori approach, this third plane is developed through the building of the adolescent’s sense of self within society. Finally, during the fourth plane (eighteen years old to twenty-four years), very little has been developed regarding a classroom approach, mainly due to the Montessori belief that by the time individuals reach this stage, the previous education from earlier planes will have provided a sound framework for dealing with the challenges inherent in the fourth plane (e.g the independent exploration of science and culture, politics and economics so as to become societal leaders).

Benefits

Religious Education3The benefits of a child placed in a Montessori learning environment are immediate as well as far-reaching. For example, the Montessori approach instills in kids a feeling of self-worth, enabling them to become highly independent while learning a great deal about who they are as individuals, acquiring many skills and problem solving abilities along the way. Also, the Montessori approach teaches children how to resolve conflict through non-violence, meanwhile building upon a sense of non-religious spirituality that emphasizes love and cooperation. Another benefit is that the child learns to honor and respect themselves, while also learning to respect their family, other children and adults, and above all honoring life itself, all the while developing dignity within the child and simultaneously recognizing one’s unique limits and flaws. The approach also teaches kids to think on a deeper level, to figure out the connections between all things, and to figure out these connections on their own, to teach themselves, essentially. Overall, the Montessori education enables the child to develop into their highest independent potential.

Key Points

Over the past decades, the Montessori educational approach has flourished all over the world, proving its effectiveness in teaching children an equal amount about the world and themselves, through a sense of liberty, creativity, and respect for oneself and others. By doing so, the hope is that children will develop into their full potential so that, as these children grow and enter into the larger global society, they will be fully equipped to become leaders in culture, science, politics, and economics, pushing the potential of humanity as a whole.