Discoveries of Maria Montessori
2. What are the discoveries of Dr. Maria Montessori ? Dr. Maria Montessori was a keen observer of children. She used her observational and experimental proclivities from her medical background to develop, what we might today call, a Constructivist understanding of the process of learning. She studied them scientifically. If she saw some unusual behavior in a child, she would say,”I won’t believe it now, I shall if it happens again”. She studied the conditions in which the children would perform those actions.
She thought education always involved three elements: The learner, the Prepared Environment, and the Trained Adult. The basic areas in which she gave importance was freedom, independence, respect and responsibility. She believed that the child constructs knowledge from experiencing the world. Learning, she said, was not something that needed to be forced or motivated. Instead, learning is something that humans do naturally. The early years especially are ones of great mental growth. Throughout the early years of life, the child absorbs impressions from the world around him. Not with his mind, but with his life.
She recognized that children go through certain phases during which they learn more easily than at any other time in their lives. This innate potential to learn is dependent upon a loving environment that encourages the active pursuit of knowledge. The child should be given the freedom to do his work and must be given the respect for the child as an individual. The behavioral change shown to respect and freedom is very eminent Dr. Montessori’s developmentally-appropriate approach to learning is designed to fit each child instead of making each child fit into a preset program.
She believed that learning should take place in multi-aged classrooms where children who are at various stages of development can learn from and with each other. This learning should take place in a non-competitive atmosphere in order for each child to develop at his/her own speed. Dr. Montessori observed that the best way for young children to learn is by active, hands-on experiences. She developed the idea of the prepared environment, where the classroom contains a wide variety of cognitive materials that foster learning in numerous areas.
The purpose of the materials is not just to impart knowledge to children, but rather to provide them with stimuli that capture their attention and initiate a process of concentration. She was compelled to believe that the children love to do constructive work proved it suited their age and the stage of development. She observed that they worked with great interest and repeated the activities on their own volition to reach a stage of concentration. Montessori saw two streams of energy within the young child. The first is the physical energy of the body expended in voluntary movement.
And the second is mental energy: the energy of intellect and will. She felt that these two streams of energy are often separated by the forces of modern life. And children who are not helped to unite them tend to move aimlessly and clumsily and have unfocused thought patterns. A unification of mental and physical energies comes about when a child becomes absorbed in work. Montessori called this “normalization. ” And concentration, she said, was the key. The carefully prepared environment in the Montessori schools provide the opportunity for children to grow intellectually and emotionally.
She decided to follow the child. Thanks to the revelations and the freedom she allowed to the children she was able to discover several aspects of the child and childhood. With her scientific approach of mind she tested whether every child in similar opportunities and similar conditions would manifest the same types of behavior. She tested these again and again and after twenty two years of such experimentation Dr. Montessori could say that she had found a method of helping children in their educational pursuits. Thus came the Montessori Method of education.
Some of the discoveries Dr. Maria Montessori made during her work. 1. Children love to work purposefully. The inner drive to work is sufficient to reach their goal if it corresponded with the inner developmental need. With the provision of the necessary conditions and necessary environment the child without the instigation of an adult can reach his goal. 2. When an inner need to do something meets with the inner urge spontaneous Interest is generated. When the inner urge or the Interest finds a suitable working condition it leads to spontaneous Repetition.
When this spontaneous Repetition of an activity is done with interest the natural result is Concentration. Concentration is not the end product of education, its just the beginning. Any true learning happens with concentration. The children revealed that given the right conditions they would work with concentration. 3. Very young children need order for their development. This order need not be only with things in the environment but also with values, functions and other human activities. The child needs to see human values like ‘Say the Truth’ being practiced. But the adults do not practice in the everyday life.
The child gets confused and this can create a warp in his development. Similarly any object in the environment being used for a purpose other than it is meant for creates disturbance. (e. g. the other end of a teaspoon used as a screwdriver). Contrary instructions about behaviour muddle his decisions how some action is allowed at some other time (for example. when a visitor is there). The examples can go on multiplying but the important factor that we need to remember is that the young child is in the process of building his personality which lasts his lifetime.
He needs consistency in everything in his environment. It takes a while for him to understand that things can also be different 4. Freedom is another basic requirement of a child’s development process. Dr. Maria found that to perform well in any activity they should be given the option to choose their own activity then only they excel it according to their own capabilities. 5. Normality depended on all the human powers working in unison, in collaboration. Very often children deviate from this normality because they do not find the conditions necessary for their development.
D Montessori says that during the early childhood it is possible to rectify any developmental errors and bring the child back to normality The rectification can be made possible only by the child’s working individually at the developmental activities in freedom. ACTIVITY was essential. 6. These developmental activities belonged to areas that the child needed for building his personality generally activities involving sensorial concepts, language, arithmetic, art, culture were considered necessary for the child’s education.
The introduction of the exercise of practical life as developmental activities was Dr Montessori’s contribution to education. She found out how the children needed to perform these activities of everyday life. These became developmental activities especially because they brought the intelligence, will and voluntary movements together this co-ordination brought about integration of the personality Dr Montessori realized that these activities were very well understood by the children and thus mobilized their intelligence to the fullest participation. 7.
Several other topics that were considered too high and out of reach for the children of 3 to 5 years were brought into the House of Children. Dr Montessori found out that these areas of knowledge are necessary for the child’s total development rather than being subjects to be learnt and, perhaps, memorized. The children showed that they could assimilate the knowledge if they were given in a suitable form. 8. In the House of Children, discipline that is a bugbear in educational institutions came in a new form. The children managed their individual life,their manner of speaking, moving, handling material, interacting with other children.
The children revealed quiet, orderliness, remarkable work attitude striving for perfection, sense of responsibility towards themselves and the environment and also others in the community Above all they showed independence in their control of errors, love for silence, indifference with regard to reward or punishments. Discipline did not have to be enforced. 9. At a social level they lived and let others live, helping others, co-operating with them, having quarrel, exhibiting no possessiveness and giving respect for elders who worked with them.
At some point of time it was also seen that the children worked irrespective of whether the elders were there or not. The absence of adults did not influence their discipline, orderliness, quiet in their individual or social life. This suggested that discipline must come from within and not imposed from outside. Discipline is an inner development born in freedom. Freedom and discipline are two faces of the same coin. These are two forms of discipline. the outer and the inner the inner discipline is a natural and inner urge to follow the laws that govern development. This inner discipline is the basic on which the outer discipline can rest.
So the outer discipline imposed by the adults on the child should be in a form that will be given to the inner innate discipline and it can reveal itself in all its glory 10. Real obedience is based on love, respect and faith. When obedience leads to inner satisfaction it becomes real obedience and hence it becomes real development. 11. Dr Montessori discovered that the children are often seen to behave in a certain manner- destructive, disorderly, stubborn, disobedient etc. But in specially prepared environments and with specially trained adult they show orderly, responsible, loving behaviour both are seemingly real.
But why is the contradiction? Dr Montessori says that the second instance is the real one and the very common behaviour is the result of the child not finding the right conditions for development. Dr Montessori calls this the social question of the child. This discovery was possible because she could witness this grandeur of human normality 12. Many of the activities presented to children in Montessori Houses of Children are results of observing the child and, therefore, may be considered as discoveries- The Silence Activity, Exercises of Practical Life, Walking on the Line are some of the examples. 3. It is a well-known truth that human life is a series of steps in gaining independence and credit could go to Dr Montessori who pointed that this is true with child life also. All the help we offer should lead the child to Independence in his individual and social life. The Montessori Method bases itself on these and various other discoveries Dr Montessori made while she worked with children. We might conclude by saying that Dr Montessori calls upon every adult human being to develop the humility to [earn from the child in order to help the child create a healthy human being.