Montessori Method

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In Montessori schools, children apply themselves with the sort of concentration most adults find hard to muster. The activities, it is emphasized, are work.

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Children have play time, of course, but classroom work is work. The Method is designed for the opposite goal, to teach that work is intrinsically rewarding; therefore it must protect children from external influences that might replace internal motivation for work. Hardcore Montessori parents will even—heresy of heresies! You must be so glad you drew that beautiful unicorn!

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Montessori wrote that the bigger the class size the better, since it meant more opportunities for students to figure things out on their own. She also wrote that uneducated people made better teachers than the educated ones, since they were less likely to try to deviate from the Method; and that the worst teachers of all were those with education degrees and previous teaching experience in the traditional system. The Method is sometimes criticized as too inflexible, and it can inspire comparisons to Steve Jobs , with his imperious obsession with aesthetics, minute detail and controlled environments.

If every activity in the Method must be presented in exactly that way, if every material must have exactly those dimensions, be exactly that shade of that color, it is because Dr. Montessori proved through countless experiments, over decades, on children from every background and on every continent, that those specific attributes produced the same results.

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  4. The idea that less-educated teachers are better because they take less initiative shocks us because we instinctively feel that teaching is, or ought to be, a creative activity in which teachers must deploy their spontaneity and innovative skills. But think about what that means. If you hear that a medical researcher working on an intractable disease has unleashed his creativity and thought outside the box, you will applaud.

    Human civilization advances not when a genius produces new knowledge but when novel insight gets translated into processes that enable non-geniuses to disseminate the product of that knowledge throughout society. It is not glamorous, but it is what actually changes the world. We know we have made progress not when a genius is able to do something new but when non-geniuses are able to repeat it.

    Montessori Vs. Conventional School

    Maybe the above intrigues, pleases, shocks the reader. Maybe all at the same time. Maybe we are willing to be sold on the idea that the Method is interesting and has valuable things to bring to the table.


    But that is not the claim I make. My claim is that Montessori is vastly and unquestionably superior to the alternatives. As far as I know, no method has been shown in a study to outright erase the income achievement gap— except Montessori. And the latest developments in neuroscience are just now catching up to Dr. People typically introduce the Method by talking about the materials or about the philosophy behind it.

    Sometimes they talk about the life of Dr. Maria Montessori. And it is easy to see why, because it is such an inspiring story. She was the first woman doctor in Italy; she was a polymath who studied everything from mathematics to anthropology to philosophy at advanced levels; she designed her first materials for mentally disabled children, a starting point whose symbolism a Christian can only see as providential.

    But in a sense, this approach is misleading. Why is this important? And it is starting from that theory that it deduces a practical method. Montessori, who was a scientist by training and never claimed to be anything more, worked the other way around. Those aspects were introduced over time and tested, and they worked.

    The same was true with the activities. From her findings, Dr. Montessori developed theories, of course, but then put the implications from her theories to practical tests. That is, in a word, the scientific method. The Montessori Method is the only pedagogical method that was completely developed and refined through the scientific method.

    5 Principles of the Montessori Method |

    And here lies the qualitative difference. The Montessori Method is the only pedagogical method that was completely developed through the scientific method. The sum total of what humans could learn about pedagogy did not end when Maria Montessori died. But unfortunately, her spirit of rigorous experiment was for the most part not carried on. To take just one example, in my experience most Montessori advocates are opposed to children using digital devices.

    Maria Montessori was a deeply devout Catholic and a daily communicant. She believed her method was firmly grounded in the Gospel even as it was based on science, since indeed the two could never contradict each other, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught. She fostered the development of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd , a religious instruction program using her methods, which has also shown amazing results in bringing children to know and love the Lord.

    And the Method is indeed grounded in the Gospel. A Montessori classroom is the living embodiment of the Catholic truism that true freedom can be exercised only in an ordered framework. Montessori saw her goals as moral education, scientific education and artistic education—or education for the good, the true and the beautiful.

    The Method is incarnate; it reaches the soul through the body. And, of course, with those beautiful objects and precise rituals, it is liturgical. So, as we must ask of the world, we must ask of the church: Why did we ignore Maria Montessori? Imagine for a second if the church had adopted Montessori education as its blueprint early in the 20th century. Imagine first the countless lives that would have been transformed, the people who would never have reached their full potential in a traditional school.

    Then imagine the greater robustness of the church. How many have left the church because of angry teachers or utterly boring catechism lessons? Catholics keep wondering what they have to give the modern world that it does not already have. By the end of the 19th century, the church had been the biggest educational institution in the world by far, continuously for centuries.

    Indeed, it had literally invented the school, as well as the university. But by that time, modern nation-states had taken over mass public education. The church could not compete. Modern states had infinitely more money and resources, and they could make school free for everyone and compel attendance, which certainly helped turnout.

    And suddenly countries were faced with the question of pedagogy for the first time. Most of them ended up copying the Prussian model.


    The vast majority of schools, public and private, across the West, despite some variations due to history and geography, still follow the same basic model invented by a militaristic dictatorship in the 19th century. As Prof. This comes from the era of the Industrial Revolution, when schools were explicitly modeled on factories, with children as inputs.

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    Bells were introduced to mimic the bells on the factory floor that signify breaks. Learning was induced through a reward and punishment system. Germany and other European nations were also anticipating mass warfare, and schools needed to produce disciplined future soldiers. The approach made practical application of philosophical assumptions.

    What is Montessori? 10 key principles all parents should know

    This form of schooling is based on the Lockean tabula rasa view that we come into this world as blank slates, as simple receptacles for information, and on the Cartesian dualism between mind and body. Accordingly, the best way to learn something is to receive it in a disincarnate way. Those are assumptions contrary to the wisdom of the Catholic tradition. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. Multi-age groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method. Younger children learn from older children; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered.

    This arrangement also mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized. In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

    The Montessori Method Montessori children learn to work independently and in groups. Who was Maria Montessori? Thus the teacher prepares the environment, programs the activity, functions as the reference person and the exemplary, and stimulates the child to achieve a given objective. Here the quick child is not held back by the slower and the slow child is not forced to proceed faster. Schools have existed to teach children to observe, to think, to judge.

    Montessori introduces children to the joy of learning at an early age and provides a framework in which intellectual and social discipline goes hand in hand. Our Middle School children are accepted to the best High Schools after graduation, and from there they frequently are accepted to some of the top colleges in the country. Phone:

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