Control the environment, not the child
The Montessori method of education was developed in Italy in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori. The core philosophy behind the method is that every child is unique, in comparison to adults as well as to other children, and that their individuality must be respected throughout the educational process. If placed in the proper environment, children will "normalize," which means that they will develop into whole, peaceful adults with a love of learning.
Preparation of the Environment
The Montessori learning environment is referred to as the "prepared environment". It should be full of items with the highest artistic, scientific or cultural value. The space should be comfortable and designed to afford children the greatest possible independence. Generally, there's no junk food, no computer and nothing broken or unclean. The intent is for the child to be completely free to develop mentally and emotionally in the environment.
Pay Close Attention
Observation is of vital importance to the Montessori method. Parents should carefully observe their child, in order to discover his or her unique needs and interests. This will help the parents to teach relevant lessons and suggest appropriate work. Children should always understand why a particular subject or concept is important to learn before they are taught anything.
Here are a few of the other main tenets of the Montessori method:
- Repetition. Children need to be free to repeat an action as many times as they wish.
- Independence. Children are encouraged to make discoveries and solve problems on their own.
- Passion. Children will only learn subject matter that they care about. Anything that's forced upon them will be forgotten.
- Do not disturb. When the child is concentrating on an activity, he or she shouldn't be interrupted.
Criticisms of the Montessori Method
Some have criticized the Montessori method for leaving children too free and say that all the positive reinforcement provided by practitioners can make children soft and unprepared for the harsh realities that lie outside the classroom. Others have argued that it's too restrictive and that children educated in a Montessori environment aren't adequately socialized.