Saturday, March 19, 2011

Following the Child

Dr. Maria Montessori observed children throughout various continents and cultures to develop her educational philosophy and teachings- the Montessori Method. Perhaps one the most fascinating and progressive components of the Montessori Method is the principle of “Following the Child.”

Specific elements of the Montessori Method which support this Montessori principle include:

The Human Tendencies: The practical application of the Montessori method is based on human tendencies— to explore, move, share with a group, to be independent and make decisions, create order, develop self-control, abstract ideas from experience, use the creative imagination, work hard, repeat, concentrate, and perfect one's efforts.

Teaching Method: Seldom will two or more children be studying the same thing at the same time. Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children—rather than from the teacher. The teacher is facile in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalizing on interests and excitement about a subject. Children learn from what they are studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that is going on around them during the day.

Areas of Study Linked: All subjects are interwoven; history, art, music, math, astronomy, biology, geology, physics, and chemistry are not isolated from each other and a child studies them in any order he chooses, moving through all in a unique way for each child. At any one time in a day all subjects—math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc.—are being studied, at all levels.

Assessment: There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, subtle or overt. The real test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behavior of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning, concentration, and work. The child is scientifically observed, observations recorded and studied by the teacher. Teachers understand the developmental goals for children, both academic and social, in the age groups they work with. They use their observations to monitor children’s progress and adjust their individual lessons accordingly.

Learning Styles: All intelligences and styles of learning—musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intuitive, natural, and the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical—are nurtured and respected.

Dr. Montessori understood that children posses an innate interest in learning and should be encouraged to become ‘active participants in their own learning and education.’ Montessori advocated that students be provided environments in which learning is highly individualized, inquiry-based, independent, non-graded, and collaborative.

Interestingly, a recent New York Times article discusses the outcomes of a public school project that also encouraged students’ active participation in their learning. Eight teens were given the opportunity to create a school within a school. In addition, the eight students were able to design and implement their own curriculum. The results of the project were transformative…"We have tried making the school day longer and blanketing students with standardized tests. But perhaps children don’t need another reform imposed on them. Instead, they need to be the authors of their own education.”

The parallels between the public school trial and the specific elements of Montessori methodology are quite evident. The principle of “Following the Child” facilitates both the development of intrinsic motivation and the pursuit of intellectual interests. Montessori students flourish because there are no educational or curriculum limits imposed. A Montessori student is first, and foremost, the ‘author of their own education.’

1 comment:

Thesis Writing said...

Dr. Maria Montessori is doing a great job to develop her teaching philosophy by observing children.