The Montessori Method is an educational philosophy that seeks to empower students for the life they are about to lead. Getting this method to work requires understanding how Montessori promoted each of her classroom values and why she believed that her research had turned up the path to academic success.
The Value of Work
A large part of the Montessori philosophy centers around the idea that children actively want to work and participate in society. Dr. Montessori believed that giving students positive and structured academic experiences would help them develop a healthy relationship with work and education throughout the rest of their lives.
The Montessori Method teaches the value of working by presenting every task as an opportunity. Practical activities like cleaning up the classroom or helping prepare lunch are simply the norm in a Montessori classroom, and students are usually happy to jump in and show their ability to contribute.
Before Dr. Montessori entered the field, almost all educational materials were entirely abstract. Students of all ages were expected to understand the complications of language before they were able to learn – an expectation that put a significant delay on most children’s educational opportunities.
Instead, Dr. Montessori proposed that physical and tangible learning materials might actually help create a foundation for more advanced concepts. She started providing her students with things like carved letter blocks, counting beads, and various other materials that physically represented the concepts children are expected to learn. She also promoted hands-on activities like gardening, crafting, and cooking, all of which help to refine a child’s motor control and improve their ability to interact with the world.
Curated Learning Environments
Many of the children that Maria Montessori taught at the original Casa dei Bambini grew up in chaotic environments. In order to help them succeed, Dr. Montessori went out of her way to make sure that the classroom was clean, peaceful, and child-friendly.
One of the first things that Dr. Montessori noticed about her classroom was that the furniture was too large for children to interact with. By the time she was done teaching, she had a room full of kid-sized furniture, including tables, chairs, bookshelves, and even cleaning supplies. All objects that a student might use were stored within easy reach, and she personally cleaned up the classroom at the end of the day. Modern Montessori classrooms are maintained in a similar style, ensuring that children are able to grow and learn in an environment designed just for them.
One of the final tenants of the Montessori Method is that each lesson needs to be taught at the right moment for the recipient. Dr. Montessori wrote about something called a “sensitive period” in which a child is most ready to learn about a specific topic or absorb a specific skill. Montessori believed that the path to success involved working with these periods, not against them.
Dr. Montessori also believed that most children were naturally inclined to pursue their own developmental needs. The Montessori Method encourages students to choose their own activities, set their own goals, and learn to work at their own pace. When combined with attentive guidance, this learning style helps kids become attached to their work and confident in their own personality and skills.
The Montessori Method works because it doesn’t contradict the natural order of human development. Maria Montessori believed that teaching would be successful as long as you paid attention, listened to your students, and promoted diligence and a positive attitude at every turn.