What is the Montessori Method?
(Taken from the South African Montessori Association Trust)
The basic principle of the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop the physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest, the child must have freedom – a freedom achieved through order and self-discipline. The primary goal of a Montessori programme is to help each child reach the fullest potential in all areas of life and to create a secure, loving and joyful environment in which the child can learn, grow, and become independent. It strives to educate each child to acquire self-esteem and a positive attitude towards learning. The program includes individualized teaching, self-corrective materials, as well as a stimulating and non-pressured environment. The lessons are individual and brief. Another characteristic of the lesson is its simplicity. The third quality is objectivity. Dr Montessori developed what she called a ‘prepared environment’ that is controlled by the teacher, while children make decisions controlled within the Environment. The teacher is often called the directress or guide, who prepares this environment, directs the activities, functions as the authority, and offers stimulation to the child; but it is the child who learns and is motivated through the work and his desire to learn. All these activities help the child develop an ‘inner discipline’ which is the core concept of the Montessori philosophy.
What is the difference between Montessori and Traditional Methods of teaching?
In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic learner, full of creative potential and in need of the maximum possible freedom to be allowed to develop as a happy, confident individual. Montessori schools therefore place emphasis on the importance of process. In more traditional schools children are seen to be in need of more instruction and control from adults – there is less trust in the child’s own inner abilities and more emphasis on ensuring very defined results. So Montessori schools are learner centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher centred.