What is the Montessori Method?


Hello English Explorers!

There is an interesting topic for today’s post. There has been a lot of buzz about the Montessori Method. We are going to be answering the question of what is this method and the history of the woman behind it.

Without further adieu, let’s look at this learning method.

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It all began with a woman named Maria Montessori.

Maria was born in Italy in 1870. She moved from city to city in Italy. She had originally wanted to study engineering but she changed her mind and went to Medical School.

In the final two years, Maria Montessori studied psychiatry and pediatrics. This might have influenced the method that she would later develop for children’s learning.

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After becoming a doctor, she started to work with mentally disabled children at a clinic.

She started teaching these kids. She then served on a board for an organization that opened a school for teachers. This school specialized in training teachers for mentally disabled children.

Maria became a co-director and the school became a huge a success.

The spread of this type of new teaching style started to slowly spread to poor families.

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What was this new type of teaching?

She gave the students independence by allowing them to move chairs and tables to where they wanted. She incorporated physical activities. These activities kept the children moving and not seated for most of the day. Religion was also a part of this educational process.

The idea was that with freedom, the students would become self motivated and enjoy learning.

Dr. Maria Montessori saw the role of the teacher as a guide during the learning process. The teacher should watch the classroom during classroom activity.

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So what makes this method so special?

To begin with, the students are not put in the same group based on their age. This means many children are in a class that are different ages.

For the most part, schools are run like factory lines: ringing bells, specialized into separate subjects and put children through the system by age group (when they were born).

The Montessori Method does away with this last factory method. Does it make any sense to have kids at the same age learning the same subject. Are they all equal in subjects? Of course not!

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Why is the most important thing that the children have in common how old they  are?

Group the children by what they are good at. I know kids that have the same age but are better at Science than other children their age.

Another example of the Montessori method is to give each student the choice of activity.

As an English teacher, I have allowed my students the freedom to pick from over fifty grammar topics. I had great success with this! The students needed to pick from a list of grammar topics.

They could choose the ones they wanted to do, but they needed to do twenty exercises. Normally, at their level I had difficulty getting them to do the assignment. However, this has provided some amazing results.

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Another example is giving the students a lot time to work without interrupting them. Normally, activities last ten to fifteen minutes. Using the Montessori Method, students are given up to three hours for an activity.

It can be tempting to talk during silence as a teacher. Embrace silence and let the students work.

The Montessori Method gives the students the ability to research topics and learn through curiosity.

An example of this could be letting students pick the topic that they will need to present on. If they want to learn more about it, then it will be fun for them. It is not going to be a chore.

This has a great effect on the learning process. The student is more eager to present to the class what has been learned and does not hesitate to volunteer to present the material.

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The students have the freedom to move about the classroom as they want.

I sometimes let my students do this, until they keep talking to their friends. When students cannot control talking to their friends after a week or two, I will give them a warning. I tell them that I will move them if they do not stop talking to each other. This usually does the trick.

The Montessori Method also has the teacher follow the student throughout their studies. This means that the students will have the same teacher for four years or more.

I work at a school where I have followed the same class for English for three years. There are many advantages to this. I get to see the students’ development. I know what to expect from the child and I don’t waste time trying to figure the behavior of the kid.

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In this class, I have had new students introduced to the class and I find myself guessing at their behavior or what needs to be worked on. With the students that I have had for three years, I know what they need to work on. I can help them develop skills in this area that might not be caught by a new teacher until the middle of the year.

I must say that this helps me tremendously from the first day. I know which students need to be called on and which students know all of the answers. I know who is weak in vocabulary and who is weak in spelling.

One aspect of the Montessori Method that I do not have a lot experience with is the non-use of plastic materials. What I mean is that materials in the room are made out of natural products like wood.

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The idea that toys should be made of wood is that it keeps the students in close contact with nature. The wood inspires that child to build something from the environment. Some people think that the wood keeps anxiety down.

So what are the benefits to the Montessori Method? The idea is to have an extension of your home. For parents or guardians that want to give your child some independence, then this method might be for you.

The school works to eliminate negative competitiveness amongst students. For example, backpacks that have Batman or Elsa on them on not permitted. They do not want the children to compete and brag about their possessions. A sense of equality is given to the students so that no one student feels inferior.

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The method strives to lay a foundation for critical thinking, working with others and to take chances with new ideas. The Montessori Method puts value on diversity. Accepting people and ideas that are different is at the core of their teaching method.

A study with Scientific American (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/students-prosper-with-mon/) found that Montessori students did better in social interactions and rule changing games. The study found that the essays of older students who went to a Montessori school were better.

However, on skills tests both sets of students (non-Montessori and Montessori) did equally well.

There are mixed opinions about the education. Some schools do some aspects of the Montessori Method and they call themselves Montessori schools. If you want to know how good the school is, you should ask how much the teachers earn at the school. Sometimes, better salaries lead to a higher talent pool.

Did your child or you go to a Montessori school? Let me know.

What is your opinion about education? Do you have any theories or best practices?

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