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Montessori Philosophy

Montessori philosophy and methodology is based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman medical doctor in Italy, who lived from 1870 to 1952. Dr. Montessori obtained her medical degree in 1894 and began to develop theories concerned with the education of people with severe disabilities. Her early research found that significant educational gains could be made in the proper educational environment by using a series of "concrete manipulatives" or specialized materials designed to create clear visual impressions in the mind of the child and assist them in categorizing and classifying information. Eventually, Dr. Montessori realized the techniques she developed were appropriate for students at all levels and abilities. 

Montessori philosophy and methodology is based on the education of the whole child. This not only includes cognitive and academic development, it also concentrates on the emotional, physical and social development of the child. The children become self-
learners and structure their own curriculum, working with and absorbing information at the time they are ready. The children cultivate their own natural desire to learn. 

The use of Montessori materials is based on two fundamental principles. First, that the child uses their hands, and secondly, the children repeat the exercises as many times as they are driven. Through repeated manipulation of objects, children don't just memorize facts, they absorb concepts into their "muscular memory." Furthermore, children who follow their own productive inner drive rather than an imposed schedule understand and learn in the truest, deepest sense (Wolf, 1995). 

Organization of the environment is key to the proper deliver of the methodology. Preparation for life is inherent in the dynamics of the Montessori classroom. Some of the key features are:

  • The concrete materials are arranged sequentially on low shelves.
  • The physical arrangement of the room which allows for freedom of movement.
  • The social organization of multi-age groups of children.
  • The wealth and diversity of learning on a continually enriched basis.
  • Respect for the child to learn at his or her own pace.

A Montessori program achieves a balance between a child's needs for freedom of movement and social interaction, and the equally compelling needs for order, independence, concentration and challenge. Children learn to think for themselves, collaborate with others, and become actively challenged in their education. 

"Education is aid to life" ---- Maria Montessori

Reference: Wolf, A. D. (1995). A parents guide to the Montessori classroom. 

Hollidaysburg, PA: Parent Children Press.