This is one of the most frequently asked questions by most parents that reach out to us. Most of them have heard the term Montessori in a loose context, but don’t have a good understanding about it. The oft repeated observation is that “We know it’s different and that children are free to learn at their pace but we would like to know more”. The one aspect that baffles parents most is that, at any given time, each child is immersed in his/her own activity and yet the classroom is functioning at more than an optimal pace! Most adults cannot fathom the fact that, despite such a lack of structure in a preschool environment, our environments are so peaceful! If you are one such parent who is curious to know more, please read on. We would like to show you the magic of Montessori when done right. It’s the most beautiful gift that one can give their child. This section will showcase the salient features of the pedagogy and its historical context, while helping you identify an authentically run Montessori school.
"We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being."
"We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master."
The Montessori pedagogy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first lady
physician in Italy. As a doctor, Dr. Montessori chose paediatrics and psychiatry as
her specialties. Here she noticed that all children, irrespective of their socio-
economic status, are born with an innate eagerness to learn and explore and, given
the right environment, they will blossom to their fullest potential.
She opened the first Montessori school in the slums of Rome, called Casa Dei
Bambini, on January 6 1907. Today, there are more than 22,000 Montessori schools
in 110 countries around the world. These slum children excelled at reading and
writing, and many influential people were drawn towards this phenomenon. The word
quickly spread amongst many educators all over Europe and North America, and
many dignitaries visited to see this in action.
Once World War II began, Dr. Montessori was forced to flee to India, where she
developed a program called Education for Peace. Her work with the program earned
her two Nobel Peace Prize nominations. Sixteen courses were conducted during this
time, creating a very strong base for the method here.
The Montessori pedagogy is probably the only constructivist progressive educational
system based on scientific observation of children from birth to adulthood, across
three continents. It has been developed over 50 years via careful observation and
refined to suit the children’s needs globally.
It aims at raising an inwardly free individual who is truly aware of his/her own self,
and is free from social conditioning and inner conflict. The aim of true education
should be to rid the child of all the impediments to its innate eagerness to learn,
teach him/her to respect the outer laws and thus become an integral part of the
For those who would like to know more about the pedagogy here is a list of recommended reading:
- The science behind the Genius by Dr Angeline Stoll Lillard
- Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler
- The secret of childhood by Dr Montessori
"The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!"
A Montessori class mimics the real world. Like the world where we interact with people of all ages, so do the children in a true Montessori environment. This has many benefits.
Our children all get a chance to be a leader within the classroom.
The younger child enjoys being helped by an older peer who, in turn, loves being the mentor. This same younger child, who was in awe of the older child, then starts to develop confidence and is the middle year child who then slowly becomes the confident third year child who everyone now looks up to.
The children get many opportunities to display leadership and enhance their social emotional quotient.
It is one of the greatest joys to see such collaboration among varied age children where one child is helping another child tie his lace or helping with scissor cutting of the plant stem for flower arrangement.
Children learn better from peers and observation
than from an adult. In a Montessori environment, children are motivated and encouraged to watch their peers at work. This positively reinforces learning and it benefits both children. Many younger children are often drawn towards the older child’s work and intently observe the older child. They can’t wait to start using the “big works” and this induces a love of learning in a natural state as opposed to rote learning.