"Education demands... this: the utilization of the inner powers of the child for his own instruction." Dr. Maria Montessori

Pedagogical Principles

"Montessori classrooms provide a prepared [learning] environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work. The children's innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration and joyful self-discipline. Within a framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities.

The transformation of children from birth to adulthood occurs through a series of developmental planes. Montessori practice changes in scope and manner to embrace the child's changing characteristics and interests." (AMI website)

Montessori EducationMainstream Education
Based on the natural development of the universal human being   Based on a year-by-year generic national curriculum  
Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interests   Children learn from a set curriculum with a set time frame applied to all 
Children teach themselves using materials specially designed for a particular concept  Teachers deliver the curriculum and assign tasks for practicing a concept 
 There are no set limits to learning; the children is encouraged to find things out through exploration and initiative Learning is divided into academic subjects and content is predetermined by curriculum guidelines  
All learning styles are accommodated: the body, mind, and heart are engaged in the process  Children sit at desks, working with self-contained worksheets, computer programs 
The adult (the Director) is one part of the learning environment, along with the specially prepared materials and layout and the other children in the community  The class is teacher-centred, as a temporary 1 year community based on the individual teacher's routines and methods 
Multi-age community reinforces skills in older children, exposes younger children to concepts early, and permits individualized progress and social development  Single-graded classroom causes competition and negative self-concept in children who are developing at a unique rate physically and emotionally 
The child's individual development brings its own reward and further motivation  A system of rewards and punishments and evaluation is intended to develop motivation 
 Uninterrupted work cycles allow for individualized concentration periods and peaceful, significant investigation with concepts and skills Short work periods frequently interrupted for recess or other lessons are intended to keep the children's attention and relieve boredom 

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

"Dr. Maria Montessori, Italian physician, anthropologist and pedagogue, studied children of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for over fifty years. Her intense scientific observation of the human being from birth to maturity allowed her to formulate a body of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical principles. These, together with a vast range of auto-didactic materials, came to be known as the Montessori Method of Education." (from AMI Centenary website)

Other Montessorians

Dr. Montessori collaborated with innovative contemporaries: leading scientists, intellectuals and humanitarians. These included Anna Maccheroni, co-creator of the special Montessori music materials, Sophia Cavaletti, developer of the Good Shepherd Cathechesis and Mario Montessori contributor to the theory and curriculum for Elementary children. Alexander Graham Bell, American inventor, provided financial support and helped establish the first Montessori class in Canada and one of the first in the United States. Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school. Thomas Edison, scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school.

Today, the Association Montessori International and national Montessori organizations continue research and development of Montessori principles and practices, "functioning as a social movement that will strive to obtain recognition for the rights of the child throughout the world, irrespective of race, religion, political and social beliefs; co-operating with other bodies and organizations which further the development of education, human rights and peace." (AMI website)

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