Dr. Maria Montessori
(1870 - 1952)
Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator and innovator, who developed the Montessori method through her extensive research and findings through working with and observing children work naturally. Her philosophy focused on human development that would later influence major educational movements and child development approaches across the world.
Montessori's method is structured around, and promotes, the child's natural, self-initiated impulse to become absorbed in an environment and to learn from it. Based on her observations, Dr. Montessori developed specific materials, techniques and curriculum areas that assist each child in reaching his or her full potential.
As Montessori children are part of a multi-age community, the age ranges within a three year age span. This type of community allows learners with different experiences of learning to come together and share their new and old knowledge with one another. Every new school year, one third of the students are new to this multi-age community. The older ones have already been part of the community for one or two years and are viewed as mentors for the beginners. Here students learn to respect one another, developing various passions such as a love for learning and cooperative learning. Sharing responsibilities is important and through this students learn cooperative learning. Furthermore, through the Montessori environment children develop not only a positive attitude towards learning, but also an approach that learning is enjoyable and fun.
Through a Montessori environment children not only learn but also teach one another within the classroom. Providing a hands-on approach of learning, children develop responsibility for their own learning. This method allows children to acquire, retain and 'own' the material provided for them. Through this they have the ability to explore and become creative in their thinking especially in regards to problem solving.
The Montessori environment provides children with the ability to thrive as they are encouraged to become abstract thinkers through the ability to learn at their own pace (self-paced, self-learning and self-initiative). Additionally children are encouraged to work together on tasks that they may find slightly challenging; this allows them to understand that they are not competing against one another. Furthermore, through working together on projects children are able to grasp a better understanding of the material. In a Montessori environment; children are offered guidance on good behaviour skills which encourages them to carry these skills within the classroom, furthermore sharing them with other students and outside the classroom. Children are given boundaries and limits rather than restrictions – it is understood that children learn in a more effective manner how to behave when they are given limits as they are motivated to manage their own behaviour with others.