The Montessori Ethos
Maria Montessori pioneered an approach to education that focuses on children’s innate desire to learn and their enormous capacity to do so when provided with the right environment and the appropriate materials under the guidance of a watchful caring teacher. Born in 1870, she was the first woman to qualify as a medical doctor in Italy an it is her scientific background that underlies the design of the Montessori materials – many of which show quite remarkable insight into children’s learning patterns – and her belief in the importance of observation. Her work with supposedly unteachable children and the poor in Rome, and, as her fame grew, with psychologists and educationalist has left a powerful legacy that has touched the lives of countless children – and the adults around them – all over the world.
What is Montessori?
Montessori is an approach to early education the focuses on the immense capacity of the children to absorb information when given the freedom and independence to learn at their own pace. It takes its name from Dr. Maria Montessori whose scientific background and belief in the potential and uniqueness of children empowered her to develop an educational approach that appreciates how children’s processes differ from those of adults. Her insights and approach to child development have been enormously influential all over the world, both through what has become the Montessori movement and through mainstream education, which has gradually accepted many of her practices. What makes the Montessori approach different, and what makes it work so well, is that it is based on a deep understanding of the way children learn – through choosing, trying and doing themselves. When allied to the availability of specially developed materials in a prepared environment, and the close observation and guidance of a Montessori-trained teacher, this leads to an enormously powerful, confidence-building approach to learning.