The Montessori Way of Learning
Montessori Methods Develop the Whole Personality
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician whose career was dedicated to the study of children. She discovered that the characteristics at each stage of human development are unique and that the foundation of the whole personality is laid during the early years of life.
In her medical practice, Dr. Montessori’s clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn. After extensive research, she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Centering on this insight, she developed the principles of Montessori education that are followed today in schools like Crabapple Montessori that are accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
Montessori classrooms are designed for children to learn independently in an environment carefully prepared and monitored by an educator trained to work with children of that specific age group. In a non-graded class of mixed ages, children spontaneously and independently use materials designed by Dr. Montessori. They choose their own activities and develop practical and intellectual abilities through individual discovery and exploration of language, mathematics, geography, geometry, art and music. Each child usually has the same teacher for three years. This strengthens the bond between teacher, child, and parents.
Today there are close to 5,000 private and approximately 200 public Montessori schools in the United States. Montessori schools are respected the world over for creating a learning environment that fosters initiative, self-esteem and a joy of learning.
A Montessori Education Prepares Children for the Future In Ways Traditional Methods Do Not
The Montessori methodology followed at Crabapple Montessori School exemplifies the new paradigm in education promoted by internationally recognized educator Sir Ken Robinson. In 2003 Robinson was granted knighthood in Great Britain after decades of work advancing the critical role of the arts in schools and demonstrating the linkage of creativity and education to the economy.
A school is not a factory
Robinson sees that many schools are failing to prepare children for the future because they are operating in a 19th-century structure designed for the industrial revolution. They have retained a production-line approach characterized by ringing bells to stop and start learning periods, separating learning into discrete subjects, educating in batches of same-age groups, and focusing on a standardized output.
This kind of environment is not allowing children to have the learning experiences they need to prepare for a 21st-century economy that requires collaborators and innovators.
What the new paradigm looks like
In a speech titled “Changing Education Paradigms”, Robinson calls for education that emphasizes the aesthetic experience, where learning involves “senses operating at their peak,” in a time he describes as “the most stimulating period in history of the earth.”
Robinson says education should promote “divergent thinking,” which he defines as “ the essential capacity for creativity… the ability to see lots of possible answers to a questions, lots of possible ways to thinking about a question – thinking laterally, not just linear.”
The Montessori classroom provides the kind of education Robinson is calling for: a place where learning activities are designed to engage the senses, where uninterrupted work periods allow children to pursue their interests and satisfy natural curiosity, where children work together in mixed age groups and collaborate to solve problems and learn.
More about Sir Ken Robinson
Robinson has authored many works, including, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (1999); Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative (2001); and The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (2009). Find out more by visiting Sir Ken Robinson’s Web site.