The first duty of an education is to not stir up life, but leave it free to develop. — Maria Montessori
Montessori education is more than an educational method; it is also a philosophy of human development and a way of life. This paradigm is in sharp contrast to all other educational models, whether traditional or alternative.
The cornerstone of the Montessori philosophy is respect for the natural process of learning and the innate intelligence of the individual. Montessori classrooms are unique in their committed creation of a child-directed versus a teacher-directed education.
How this is accomplished is what continues to make a Montessori education revolutionary. A child-directed education requires a carefully prepared environment that responds to the changing psycho-social, intellectual and physical needs within each stage of development.
Each environment (classroom) seeks to provide motives for action by awakening the individual’s curiosity and interest. Once a child’s interest is aroused, the opportunity and freedom to choose meaningful activity — that provides a challenge and requires the acquisition of newly formed skills and competence — leads the child into full engagement, sustained attention and concentration. This demands effort and hard work.
Concentration is highly valued because of its contribution to the optimal development of the individual’s personality. Self-directed activity that results in concentration leads to the emergence of spontaneous self-discipline. Concentration has a transformative effect within the context of a community creating cohesion and compassionate interdependence.
Some of the fundamentals of a Montessori educational paradigm include:
- Respect and support for the innate intelligence of every child
- Children are natural learners; curious and capable of self-direction
- Child directed versus teacher directed activity
- A prepared environment (curriculum) that responds to each child’s interests and developmental needs
- Motives for action and meaningful activity
- Opportunities for independence and interdependence
- Freedom to follow interests within the limits established by the community
- Full engagement, focused attention and concentration
- Spontaneous self-discipline, responsibility and a heightened sociability and cooperation
Curiosity → Interest → Concentration → Spontaneous Self-Discipline, Responsibility & Compassionate Sociability
Independence ← → Interdependence