What Makes Montessori Education Unique?
The whole child approach
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specifically prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, the time to enjoy the process and ensures the development of self esteem. It provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The Prepared environment
In order for self directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment – classroom, materials and social setting / atmosphere – must be supportive of the child. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive environment. Together, the teacher and child form a relationship based on trust and respect that fosters self-confidence and a willingness to try new things.
The Montessori materials
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self correcting materials to facilitate learning.
Originally called a “directress”, the Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. The teacher facilitates learning. Extensive training is required for a full Montessori credential, including a minimum of college degree and a year’s student teaching under supervision – is specialized for the age group with which a teacher will work, i.e. infant and toddler, pre-primary or elementary level.
Montessori vs Conventional School
This video was created by a Montessori parent. He talks about what makes Montessori unique and how it differs from traditional education. Watch this video from Excellent Montessori on YouTube:
. . . from an interview with Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, about the importance of STEM education and his move from online education to brick-and-mortar schools.
Is it a kind of Montessori-esque program?
“You could almost imagine this is a bit of a Montessori 2.0. I mean, the whole principle of Montessori is students learn by exploration, play, they learn at their own time and pace, they have mixed age. And mixed age allows older students to mentor and younger students to get that mentorship and what we’re doing is exactly that. But Montessori has historically struggled as you go into the more advanced subjects, as you get to your algebra and your physics and your chemistry, and that’s where tools like Khan Academy come into play, because now students can still learn at their own time and pace, and they can still explore, and they can pull the information they need to solve real world problems. So we are inspired by Montessori and I would like to think that Maria Montessori would be pretty excited if she saw what was going on.”