For a list of Montessori schools, see List of Montessori schools. The Montessori Method of education, developed by Maria Montessori, is characteristics of educational standards of preschool education child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.
Montessori’s Method has been used for over 100 years in many parts of the world. The Montessori method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It attempts to develop children physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively. 18 year-old classrooms exist as well. Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options. Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours.
A constructivist or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction. Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood, rather than plastic. A thoughtfully prepared environment where materials are organized by subject area, within reach of the child, and are appropriate in size. Freedom of movement within the classroom. A trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, tendencies, innate talents and abilities. An introduction to some of the differences between Montessori and conventional schooling can be found in this short video.
Following her medical training, Maria Montessori began to develop her educational philosophy and methods in 1897, attending courses in pedagogy at the University of Rome and reading the educational theory of the previous two hundred years. In 1907, she opened her first classroom, the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, in a tenement building in Rome. From the beginning, Montessori based her work on her observations of children and experimentation with the environment, materials, and lessons available to them. She frequently referred to her work as “scientific pedagogy”. They found many matching points between their work. Maria Montessori was invited to hold her first course for teachers and to set up a “Casa dei Bambini” at Villa Montesca, the home of the Franchettis in Città di Castello.
Montessori education had spread to the United States by 1912 and became widely known in educational and popular publications. However, conflict arose between Montessori and the American educational establishment. The 1914 critical booklet The Montessori System Examined, by influential education teacher William Heard Kilpatrick, limited the spread of her ideas, and they languished after 1914. Montessori education also spread throughout the world, including Southeast Asia and India, where Maria Montessori was interned during World War II. A Montessori classroom in the United States. Montessori education is fundamentally a model of human development, and an educational approach based on that model.
The model has two basic principles. First, children and developing adults engage in psychological self-construction by means of interaction with their environments. Second, children, especially under the age of six, have an innate path of psychological development. Montessori saw universal, innate characteristics in human psychology which her son and collaborator Mario Montessori identified as “human tendencies” in 1957.
In the Montessori approach, these human tendencies are seen as driving behavior in every stage of development, and education should respond to and facilitate their expression. Montessori education involves free activity within a “prepared environment”, meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the individual personalities of each child. Montessori observed four distinct periods, or “planes”, in human development, extending from birth to 6 years, from 6 to 12, from 12 to 18, and from 18 to 24. She saw different characteristics, learning modes, and developmental imperatives active in each of these planes, and called for educational approaches specific to each period.
The first plane extends from birth to around six years of age. During this period, Montessori observed that the child undergoes striking physical and psychological development. The first-plane child is seen as a concrete, sensorial explorer and learner engaged in the developmental work of psychological self-construction and building functional independence. Montessori introduced several concepts to explain this work, including the absorbent mind, sensitive periods, and normalization. Montessori described the young child’s behavior of effortlessly assimilating the sensorial stimuli of his or her environment, including information from the senses, language, culture, and the development of concepts with the term “absorbent mind”. She believed that this is a power unique to the first plane, and that it fades as the child approached age six.
Finally, Montessori observed in children from three to six years old a psychological state she termed “normalization”. Normalization arises from concentration and focus on activity which serves the child’s developmental needs, and is characterized by the ability to concentrate as well as “spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others. The second plane of development extends from around six years to twelve years old. During this period, Montessori observed physical and psychological changes in children, and developed a classroom environment, lessons, and materials, to respond to these new characteristics.