“These children have free choice all day long. Life is based on choice, so they learn to make decisions. They must decide and choose for themselves all the time. They cannot learn through the commands of an other.”
Based on Dr. Maria Montessori's observation of the child's development (1870-1952), Montessori Educational System targets the child's natural tendancy to explore, as well as its impulsive desire to learn.
This learning urge in the child is expressed through a 'process of absorption' which must be nourished and respected or else it dies out. Varied observations made in a length of time, in the culture and in the social background have allowed Maria Montessori, who was the first woman doctor in Italy, to come up with a unique pedagogical material. She designs an environment adapted to each one of the child's development stages, encouraging its curiosity and independence. Finally, she defines a training for the educators.
The aim of the Montessori pedagogy is not only to pass on the knowledge as is. It is also, and primarily, to provide the children with the learning tools that will enable them to build themselves. Today, Montessori schools and Training Centres are developing throughout the world.
The three main pillars of the pedagogy
1. The prepared environment
In the classroom, each element of space and material is thought out, measured and placed in a way to satisfy the child's innate curiosity and independence. It is the prepared environment :
> A structured place where each child can feel safe, independent and free.
> It is for the child a field of observation, exploration and classification.
> The prepared environment evolves continuously: it is maintained with the respect and love the educator has for the child.
2. The material
Montessori material is specific. Each object is in itself a learning element.
The child is free to manipulate as often and for as long as he/she wishes, the material presented to him at an earlier stage by the directress.
The child captures, through his/her senses, the impressions resulting from this exploration. He/she is not interrupted in his/her research; his/her concentration increases.
Through this concrete material the child integrates the abstract notions. Montessori material has an self-correcting function: no one judges the child's result, and the child progresses by manipulating that material. The child works for his/her own pleasure and for the need to understand.
3. The directress
She is trained to observe, to guide the group and to answer the children's individual needs. She takes into account their whole being.
She helps the child discover the rules of life in society and to gradually become aware that freedom induces the notion of responsibility.
By respecting each child's rhythm the directress sees how he/she progresses.
It is this interaction between the prepared environment, the directress and the child which creates in Montessori school a unique learning experience