1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Is Montessori the Best Start for My Child?

September, 2008
Leave a comment 23588 views

Learning versus Teaching

DSCN3664   There is one other simple principle that underlines almost all, if not all alternative educational approaches, which is that nothing can be taught, but everything can be learned. This does not mean that knowledge cannot be conveyed and one person cannot show another how something is done, or tell another person about some fact or phenomenon. A skill can, of course, be “taught” and “imposed” on another, under coercion. What we mean is that the receiver must want to acquire a skill, or appropriate a certain amount of knowledge, if he is to do it to the best of his ability and fully profit from the experience, taking it as far as he possibly can—interest being sustained. Under pressure, the same skill or some amount of knowledge may be imposed, but not with the same (if any) degree of joy and satisfaction on the part of the receiver or apprentice. Joy, satisfaction and willingness are essential to unleash the potential of any individual. And this is what is provided in Montessori.

  Integrative Education

  It was mentioned at the beginning of this article that Montessori is integrative. Montessori literally covers all bases. Because children naturally explore their environment, on one hand, and model what behavior they see and live with, on the other hand, they do not need to be told how to behave—all they need is to be surrounded by appropriate behavior. Etiquette or manners, politeness, kindness, concern for others and care for their peers, adults, animals, the environment, etc., all are acquired effortless if children are presented with an environment prepared to provide those experiences first hand. Children will acquire the culture they are surrounded with, in the same way that they acquire one or more languages if spoken around them. CIMG1218

  The way we refer to Montessori as integrative here is not in the sense the term is usually used; Dean Walker[1] writes, answering the question “What is integrative education?” that

  A single definition of "integrative education" is elusive. Shoemaker brings together several themes to create an eclectic definition. Integrative education, she writes, "cuts across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association to focus upon broad areas of study." It reflects the interdependent real world, and involves the learner’s body, thoughts, feelings, senses, and intuition in learning experiences that unify knowledge and "provide a greater understanding than that which could be obtained by examining the parts separately."

  Integrative education bases its practices on the characteristics of the human learner and on the interdependent nature of reality. Instead of artificially dividing the world into "subjects" and using textbooks and seat work, integrative education immerses students in an enriched environment that reflects the complexities of life. This provides a holistic context for learning that leads to a greater ability to make and remember connections and to solve problems (Susan Kovalik and Karen Olsen 1994).

 altArt_001 We use the term here to include both the ideas above and the fact that Montessori as an approach will integrate anything, any tool, any protocol, paradigm, even if commonly seen or known as belonging to another educational system or approach, as long as it is adequate and valid, and meets the needs of the child. And this is possible only because Montessori is, so to speak, a system that has no boundaries, in the sense that it does not limit itself to formulas, nor is it a “cookie cutter” approach. Montessori is based on observation, and that empowers it—based on a record of over a century of effective practices—to say that its scientific principles work.

  So, when the question is asked, “can Montessori be “enriched” by new and more modern approaches? Can it be improved?” the answer will be, both “yes” and “no.” Yes if Montessori is seen as static (although we must say in this case that it isn’t Montessori at all, because Montessori is dynamic and organic); no if, as is, Montessori is fully understood. Because Montessori does not stand upon any set of preconceived ideas, but is, as said, based on observation, it is forever evolving, mutable, and simply put, unique for each child. It follows and meets each child’s unique learning style, interests, and needs, leaving unhindered the child’s potential, so that it may freely develop and be taken as far as possible.

  Because it is based on principles and not on a set of techniques, Montessori does not age, does not become outdated, nor does it get left behind by modern research—very much the contrary. Science is nowadays confirming, in some cases in measurable ways, what a century ago Dr. Montessori had observed.

  Can then Montessori be improved upon and enriched? Plainly put, “no.” Misunderstood Montessori, maybe. Incomplete Montessori, certainly. But not real Montessori.

  Dr. Montessori was not a mystic, but she referred to Montessori in terms of Cosmic education because it is complete and whole. Because it can bring about tremendous social changes.

  Any attempts to try to improve a system that works, are, not only pointless and unnecessary, but, because change for the sake of change is futile, detrimental to the system itself, and those in one way or another affected by the system.

  So, is Montessori right for my child?…

  Only parents can answer this question. But the question needs reformulation. What we advise parents to do is ask not if Montessori is right for their child, but rather ask, “Is Montessori right for me, as a parent?”

  If you are ready to be challenged; if you are willing to change the way you do some things, or see your child; if you can think back to your childhood days and think of something that was done to you and you tell yourself, “Hugh!… I don’t want to do THAT to my kid!” then the answer is probably “yes” and Montessori is right for you too.

  We know that Montessori is right for your child!


Series on Montessori education contributed by Mammolina Children’s Home Montessori Kindergarten

Photos courtesy Mammolina Children’s Home Montessori Kindergarten

[1] Eric Digests, ED390112

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • MSN Reporter
  • MySpace
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz

admin Montessori Education

Related Articles

  • No Related Post
  1. May 6th, 2011 at 03:16 | #1

    plz visit my blog and read the article i JUST published about Montessori _ i copied your quote bc it was cute. anyway i need some advice.. would you tweeet out my post to readers or on facebook and help me get some opinions? Thanks! i linked to this post as well. Thanks!

  1. No trackbacks yet.