As we approach Maria Montessori’s birthday it is an ideal time to reflect on her beginnings and her philosophy, developed over the years through observation of children interacting with their environment and trial and error to provide the ideal classroom to provide them with the freedom to choose in a disciplined arena.
When some people mention Montessori Schools, they refer to ‘those schools where the children can do what they want and where there is no discipline’. Yet when they observe a classroom in action, in a Montessori School, they are amazed at how organized everything is.
Children are working individually or in small groups. Some are choosing their own work or observing others at work. The facilitator might be presenting an activity to a child. The environment suits the needs of the child. The facilitator will ensure that it is well organized and suitable material laid out on the shelf, thus enabling the child to concentrate. By choosing their own work, they are more likely to focus.
Discipline happens when the children are –
- aware of the ground rules,
- can choose work that interests them during the work cycle and
- are a part of the social cohesion.
Freedom within limits allows independence and encourages responsibility. It is important to ensure that there are appropriate educational and Montessori materials for the child to develop.
All of this enables the child to develop socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually.
Our featured items this week include 2 books on Maria Montessori’s life from different perspectives. The one book, written by Rita Kramer focuses on the intellectual and social climate of Italy during Dr Montessori’s formative years and then onto her experiences in Childrens House that helped develop her philosophy. The other book Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, is important background reading for parents considering Montessori education for their children, as well as for those training to become Montessori teachers.