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Montessori For 21st Century Education


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Looking at the pedagogy of Dr. Maria Montessori as a framework for analysing and re-thinking Issues related to early childhood, primary education and societal development. Written by Alan Evans, ©Alan Evans, All Rights Reserved.

Published in: Education
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Montessori For 21st Century Education

  1. 1. MONTESSORI EDUCATION As a framework for analyzing and re-thinking issues related to early childhood, primary education and societal development . © 2012, Alan Evans, All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. The Average Child’s Brain
  3. 3. The Superior Teacher’s Brain
  4. 4. Classrooms A Long Time Ago
  5. 5. Classrooms Today QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  6. 6. Lecture Rooms A Long Time Ago
  7. 7. Lecture Rooms Today
  8. 8. Cutting Edge Experiments
  9. 9. Factories A Long Time Ago
  10. 10. Factories Today
  11. 11. Factories In the Future - NOW!
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  19. 19. Montessori Within The Foundation Phase The Montessori method fulfills all of the requirements for each of the seven areas of learning.
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  22. 22. Why do we need to re-think learning? The brain is rapidly developing in the first four years of life. It is not only responding to the child’s environment, but it is also creating it. One can no longer assume that a child’s personality, skills and talents are predetermined before birth.
  23. 23. The Swedish Childcare Commission (1972) suggests that dialogue pedagogy starts from the idea that there should be a continuous dialogue between the child and the adult, on both the inner and outer level, which implies a reciprocal giving and taking of emotions, experiences and knowledge.
  24. 24. There is no such thing as a fixed and predetermined IQ. Each child has multiple intelligences that help one understand the world. Each of the intelligences must be explored and learned. Montessori multisensory experiences combinations of intelligences. activate
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  29. 29. Dr. Maria Montessori Maria Montessori was a brilliant figure who was Italy's first woman physician. Montessori reflected a late19th century vision of mental development and theoretical kin-ship with the great European progressive educational philosophers, such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Seguin and Itard. She was convinced that children's natural intelligence involved three aspects from the very start: • rational • Empirical - observation • spiritual
  30. 30. The method represents an explicit idealism and turn away from violence towards peace and reconstruction. During this period schools were being based on the factory model of production and geared towards assimilating immigrant children into the American populous through a process of “subtractive schooling” i.e. stripping away there family, community and culture.
  31. 31. Friedrich Froebel applied his ideas to the education of even younger children and began the international movement towards universal kindergarten, which continues today. The kindergartens neglected to place the child at the pedagogical epicenter and remained in the tradition of teacher-centered education.
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  33. 33. Montessori strongly believed that the child's mind absorbs the environment, leaving lasting impressions upon it, forming it, and providing nourishment for it. Montessori warned that ‘the quality of the environment could greatly enhance a child's life or seriously diminish it’.
  34. 34. Children’s House Sensorial Language Practical Life Math Cultural Using their hierarchy, the “Superordinate level” denotes the broad category, the “basic level” describes a group category and subordinate categories are specific exemplars. In other words, (broad) ANIMALS (basic) DOG (subordinate) German shepherd or poodle. In the Montessori classroom, the Superordinate Categories are: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language and Cultural.
  35. 35. On the shelves in each level, are their “basic” categories. Lessons for the Five Senses can be found on the Sensorial shelf, for example. Children’s House Sensorial The five senses Attributes of geometry Language Handwriting Letter recognition/ Word building/ grammar Practical Life Care of the person Care of indoors Care of outdoors Mathematics 1-10, 1- 9,999 + - x / sq- cubes Math Properties/ frac Cultural Arts, Sciences Arts, Sciences Cultural Cultures, Cultures, Time Time
  36. 36. subordinate categories. On the Sensorial shelves, there are lessons for the 5 senses: •Vision- these lessons are broken down into color recognition, identifying shades of color, magnified vision, using binoculars (distance and depth perception), etc. •Auditory sense materials that teach pitch, scales, loud and soft gradation of •Tactile (sense of touch) lessons that teach rough and smooth, stereognostic memory bags (using “feel” to recognize items)….etc •Taste Tasting solutions foods and drinks. •Smell (olfactory) smelling bottles, environment, herbs, flowers, perfumes, ect Once we have learned to recognize individual attributes, we use our senses to experience LENGTH, WIDTH, HEIGHT, DEPTH, CIRCUMFERENCE, SHAPES, VOLUME… Under the basic category CULTURAL, you’ll find the subordinate categories of Art and Art history, geography, Geology, Zoology, Botany, Biology, Cultures (humanities) and Time, for example
  37. 37. 1. Start with real life 2. Move to 2 dimensional representations 3. Provide interactive activities 4. Attach language with incrementally increasing complexity
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  46. 46. With all of those materials available to students, one might think the classroom would cluttered or over-stimulating. But instead, the classrooms are very homelike and quite cozy. There is a place for everything, and everything in its place!
  47. 47. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. Characteristics of a Montessori Classroom Free Flow Movement - Areas Relating To Ages And Stages Materials Which Relate To Gardener’s 8 Core Intelligences Teacher As Observer And Director Prepared Environment - Self Discipline - Work Cycle No Discrimination Between Work And Play
  48. 48. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. A Montessori classroom is a specially prepared learning environment designed to meet the developmental needs of young children and to appeal to their diverse learning styles. The Montessori environment is also prepared to foster independence, grace and courtesy and a sense of personal responsibility. Each classroom is organized into five curriculum areas: Practical life, sensory education, language skills, math and the cultural subjects, which encompass the arts and sciences.
  49. 49. Teaching Method: • No text books • Children study independently • Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children • Teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, with a few small groups and almost no lessons given to the whole class. •She is trained in the basic lessons of arithmetic, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalizing on interests and excitement about a subject. The Colour Wheel •Large groups occur only in the beginning of a new class, or in the beginning of the school year, and are phased out as the children gain independence. •The child is scientifically observed, observations recorded and studied by the teacher. Children learn from what they are studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that is going on around them during the day.
  50. 50. Montessori saw a child’s relationship with the environment as the key to his or her self-understanding. Education is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. (Montessori 1967) QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  51. 51. Children need organized learning environments and educational materials that provide enriching meaningful experiences to support their cognitive development.
  52. 52. Gardner, too, emphasizes the importance of the environment on the development of human capabilities. Gardner believes that the "smarter" the environment and the more powerful the interventions and resources, the more competent individuals will become and the less important will be their particular genetic inheritance. He asserts that even individuals who seem gifted in a specific intelligence will accomplish little if they are not exposed to resources and materials that support that intelligence.
  53. 53. Children are intrinsically motivated to learn and they need the opportunities to explore this. Children should not be forced to do or learn something; the will and perseverance should come from them.
  54. 54. Characteristics Montessori Representation Linguistic Play with words, enjoys stories, interest in sounds of language (phonics) LANGUAGE AREA: Sandpaper letters, moveable alphabet, insets for design, stories, writing Logical/Mathematical Exploration of patterns, counting, reasoning, problem solving SENSORIAL/MATHS cylinders, solid cylinders, Spatial/Visual Visualization of concepts PRACTICAL LIFE: Order in the environment. Specific place for each material Bodily/Kinesthetic Strong motor skills and coordination. Learning through movement Intelligence Musical Naturalist Ability to produce and appreciate pitch, rhythm. Understanding of musical expressiveness Classification of living things – plants, animals, features of the natural world Intrapersonal Understanding of one’s self, ability discriminate and act on one’s feelings Interpersonal Ability to understand others and work well together. Availability of leadership roles to AREA: Knobless ALLL AREAS OF CLASSROOM OUTDOORS CURRICULUM: & MUSIC AREA: Montessori bells, songs, rhymes, music specialists GEOGRAPHY & BIOLOGY AREA: Geography and social studies curriculum, care of indoor and outdoor environment Respect of personal spaces, ability to choose to work alone Montessori’s Response To Gardener’s Theory Of Multiple Intelligence adapted by A Evans
  55. 55. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. Each lesson leads to another in a spiral of learning, with the curriculum building carefully over time.
  56. 56. Sensorial Education - Multi Sensory Materials Montessori’s approach was far in advance of the general psychological understanding of her time. Montessori developed materials and a prepared environment for the intellectual training through sensory motor modalities for children aged three to six years of age.
  57. 57. Look At The Child Dr. Montessori discovered the child’s true nature by accident while observing young children in their free, self directed activity. Building on Seguin’s work and materials, Dr. Montessori found that young children came to acquire surprising new outward qualities of spontaneous self-discipline, love of order, and a perfect harmony with others.
  58. 58. I Do And I Understand According to Montessori the understanding of the sensory motor nature of the young child’s intelligence stemmed from acute observations of children. Up until then the idea of intelligence was based on verbal development and the manipulation of visual images and ideas.
  59. 59. LOOK AT THE CHILD Both Montessori and Piaget’s discoveries and insights into the mind of the child were achieved, not by what Piaget described as ‘adultmorphic’ thinking (seeing the child as a miniature adult), but by unbiased, astute, direct observations of the child.
  60. 60. The Quality of the Environment Can Help or Hinder a Child’s Development Piaget and Montessori emphasized the necessity of active interaction between learner and the environment. Piaget and Montessori also emphasised the child’s relationship with peers as the principal means to overcoming egocentrism in learning.
  61. 61. Autonomous Environments Work The Montessori method encourages accommodation to external reality rather than assimilation to the personalized motives and fantasies of the child (spontaneous play). Montessori and Piaget observed that certain conditions were necessary for optimal cognitive growth. Among these conditions is the creation of learning situations that involve particular kinds and qualities of autonomy.
  62. 62. The child in the Montessori classroom is allowed to learn autonomously, which they receive from the teacher. It is a very special relationship based on the teacher’s trust in the child to reveal their true nature.
  63. 63. Piaget
  64. 64. Jean Piaget is considered to have been one of the worlds leading child psychologists. Piaget also spoke of sensory motor intelligence as the first period of intellectual development from age two to six years. Sensory motor intelligence rests mainly on actions (doing) on movements and perceptions without language but coordinated in a relatively stable way.
  65. 65. According to Penn (2005) Piaget turned the tables on an approach to early childhood, which aimed at filling up the child’s head with knowledge. Piaget argued that children had to find things out for themselves through experimentation and their own free thinking.
  66. 66. The Plowden Report In 1967 the U.K. Government published a major review of primary and nursery education known as the Plowden Report. Richards (1984) suggests that the principles underlying Plowden’s reports were attacked by critics for being too ‘child centred’ and for neglecting the importance of teaching as a way of initiating the young into public forms of knowledge. Source: Bridget Horatia Plowden
  67. 67. The members of the review board for the Plowden report were impressed with Piaget’s theories and suggested that schooling should be radically changed from a teacher in front of the class to many different areas from where a child could draw on concrete experiences with play and learning materials.
  68. 68. ‘Underlying all educational questions is the nature of the child himself …’ (p.1) “At the heart of the educational process is the child. No (educational) advances … have their desired effect unless they are in harmony with the nature of the child, unless they are fundamentally acceptable to him …’ (p7). Plowden (1967)
  69. 69. We may assert that all effective learning involves personal change and the most effective kinds of learning seem to be those in which the learner is the initiator of the change and involves himself in active commerce with the learning materials e.g. autonomous experiential learning through play.
  70. 70. A requirement for cognitive growth is the psychological climate in which the child is free to spend at least some of his time exploring his world with complete autonomy. When we interfere with a child’s play, when we influence his modes of behaviour, when we impose our beliefs upon him, we may be performing a service but we may be unaware of the harm we are doing. Children in school and at home are frequently forced to assume a purely passive position in which he is required to register and later reproduce material that has been imposed upon him.
  71. 71. We tend to treat children according to the group they are placed in by age, ability, socio economic background and many other factors. ‘It is as if the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture’, Sir Ken Robinson, (2012).
  72. 72. Richard Gerver Leading academic thinkers Richard Gerver and Sir Ken Robinson are calling for reform in the education system. Gerver (2012) believes that we are still basing our education system on the old model of time and motion developed by Taylor (1911). Robinson believes we should encourage creativity and divergent thinking. Both are involved in reforming education around the world through human potential and creativity but here in the U.K. the call is for ‘a return to a simple academic model of basic subjects taught in disciplined environments where children are regarded a vessels to be filled with knowledge,’ Gerver (2013). According to an Adobe Creativity study (2012) Companies are looking for more than graduates who can do specific tasks so they want employees who can also think differently and innovate. To be successful, students need an education that emphasizes creative thinking, communication, and teamwork.
  73. 73. HOT MANAGEMENT IN EARLY YEARS AND SCHOOLS Children using a model of the lung. The children were given the tools to experiment and diagrams to make models including electrical circuitry. They also made and broadcast their own radio shows.
  75. 75. Dr. Steven Hughes Source: Dr. Maria Montessori and Dr.Steven Hughes - ‘The hands are the chief teacher of the child.’ HIGHLY RECOMMEND VIEWING
  76. 76. Gardener’s (1966) research into individual differences in memory reveal that the individual differences in children can be constrained according to their early experiences especially in relation to memory and cognitive skills. “It appeared that he might be receiving training in the kind of veridical sequential perception we have called sharpening-that is, the experiencing of new stimuli in their own right, independent of what has happened before.” This research led Gardner to conclude, “The evidence has been so impressive that we hesitate to accept, without qualification, any view of child development that does not include recognition of this degree of individuality.”
  77. 77. Multiple Intelligence Theory Intrapersonal Interpersonal Musical Spatial Kinesthetic Credit: Peter Gregoire Howard Gardener Verbal/Linguistic Logical Mathematical
  78. 78. Bruce Campbell (1999) implemented Gardner’s theory in an educational setting by organising his third grade classroom in Marysville, Washington, into seven learning centres, each dedicated to one of the seven intelligences. The students spent approximately two-thirds of each school day moving through the centres 15 to 20 minutes at each centre. Source: Bruce Campbell The curriculum was thematic, and the centres provided seven different ways for the students to learn the subject matter. Each day began with a brief lecture and discussion explaining one aspect of the current theme. For example, during a unit on outer space, the morning’s lecture might focus on spiral galaxies. After the morning lecture, a timer was set and students in groups of three or four started work at their centres, eventually rotating through all seven.
  79. 79. What kinds of learning activities take place at each centre? All students learn each day’s lesson in seven ways. They build models, dance, make collaborative decisions, create songs, solve deductive reasoning problems, read, write, and illustrate all in one school day. Some more specific examples of activities at each centre follow: In the Personal Work Centre (Intrapersonal Intelligence), students explore the present area of study through research, reflection, or individual projects. In the Working Together Centre (Interpersonal Intelligence), they develop cooperative learning skills as they solve problems, answer questions, create learning games, brainstorm ideas and discuss that day’s topic collaboratively. In the Music Centre (Musical Intelligence), students compose and sing songs about the subject matter, make their own instruments, and learn in rhythmical ways. In the Art Centre (Spatial Intelligence), they explore a subject area using diverse art media, manipulables, puzzles, charts, and pictures. In the Building Centre (Kinesthetic Intelligence), they build models, dramatize events, and dance, all in ways that relate to the content of that day’s subject matter. In the Reading Centre (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence), students read, write, and learn in many traditional modes. They analyze and organize information in written form. In the Math & Science Centre (Logical/ Mathematical Intelligence), they work with math games, manipulatives, mathematical concepts, science experiments, deductive reasoning, and problem solving. and reasoning.
  80. 80. Self Organised Learning Environments - S.O.L.E. Sugata Mitra placed a computer in a hole in a wall in a slum and replicated this experiment across India. The hypothesis was whether education was effected by •Remoteness of education •Teachers •Infrastructure •Maintenance of infrastructure The tests were carried out on children in communities across India. Measured performance was based on distance from Delhi. Results were not correlated to size of class, quality of infrastructure and not related to poverty.
  81. 81. Teachers were asked would you like to move? •69% yes •I wish I were in another school impacts on results Conclusion. Teacher motivation effects children’s learning Observations ET is piloted in the best schools Impact is limited because they already have what they want Conclusion ET is over hyped and underperforming Take the same into a remote school and the impact is far greater Conclusion. ET is better used at bottom of pyramid
  82. 82. The first hole in the wall experiment took place in New Delhi in 1999. Mitra’s office bordered a slum. He cut a hole in the wall and put in a PC a touch pad and high speed Internet. Questions asked were Is this real? Does the language matter? Will the computer last? Will they break it? Will they steal it? Source:
  83. 83. Mitra took the experiment to a number of poor areas where children taught each other to browse, use the computer. Three months after leaving the computer in a rural area where no English was spoken children were using 200 English words. Mitra was funded to replicate the experiment. Children found a website to teach themselves the English alphabet. Younger children began teaching older children. Results of experiment 6 to 13 year olds can self construct - teach themselves in groups if you lift adult intervention. Results showed the same learning curve you would get in a school. 300 children were computer literate within 6 months with one computer. 8 year olds live in a society, which says don’t do that don’t touch.
  84. 84. Can A Teacher Be Replaced By A Machine? Source: Source:
  85. 85. If They Can They Should Be Source: blog Conclusion •Primary education can happen independently •Not imposed from top down •Can be self organising •Natural systems are all self organising •Values are acquired doctrine and dogma are imposed
  86. 86. Sugata Mitra is working on providing an alternative to traditional education through his ‘Granny Clouds’ where children teach themselves and tackle the big questions. The results of his work are startling and challenge any educated mind into rethinking education. Isn’t that why we became teachers? Do we stop learning? Do we dismiss the research in favour of maintaining the status quo? Do we continue with a system, which has been overtaken by the rest of the world?
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  93. 93. In conclusion, one could argue that Montessori is beginning this century as she did at the start of the nineteenth century. Her ideas and pedagogy are being revisited, validated and included in the challenge to the contemporary construction and conceptualization of childhood. Montessori’s principles could be seen as pre-empting concepts and thinking that are considered ‘cutting edge’ today; principles that place a child’s wellbeing as central to her or his experience.
  94. 94. “The greatest sign of success for a to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."” Dr. Maria Montessori
  95. 95. A CHANGE IS GONNA COME Cultural change is organic from the ground up but people are desperately clinging on to the old or suggesting we reinstate and update the old. The future is with the alternative Revolution does not require permission It does not start from the top It is not politicians leading the way There is a global shift feeding off child and parental unrest. The effort of constraining talent is greater than the effort in releasing it. ‘All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.’ Benjamin Franklin Don’t waste too much time, move around them. Work with the movable and the movers
  96. 96. In conclusion, Montessori education places the child firmly at the centre of the process and relies on observation of the child to lead and inform the adult. The relationship between child and adult is the key to the success or failure of the method. The Plowden report was revolutionary and should have had a much stronger effect on nursery and primary provision given that its statement of overall aims included what we now know as the main premise of Montessori education, i.e. “At the heart of the educational process is the child. No (educational) advances … have their desired effect unless they are in harmony with the nature of the child, unless they are fundamentally acceptable to him …’ . Autonomy and individuality are also a key factors in the delivery of educational methods. How that autonomy and individuality transpires differs from place to place and again is dependent on the adults within the environment. Gardner goes so far as to hesitate to accept any view of child development that does not recognise the possibility of a high degree of individuality brought about through the skills that every individual uses to process, categorize and make sense out of what we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. The Montessori provision is all about just that if delivered true to the original philosophy. Montessori has been providing self organised learning environments for over a century catering for multiple intelligences.
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  99. 99. References Adobe, 2012. Campbell, B. 1999. The Learning Revolution, Education innovations for global citizens Edwards, C. Gandini, L. & Forman, G. (Eds.). 1998. The hundred languages of children: Edwards, C. P. 2002, Katz & Cesarone, (1994) New (2000). Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia. The Reggio Emillia approach-Advanced reflections (2nd ed.). Gardener, H. 1993. Gardner, W. R. 1966, The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 67, No. 2 pp. 72-83. Gerver, R. 2013 Hughes, S. 2010. Mitra, S. 2013. Penn, H. 2005, Understanding Early Childhood, Issues and controversies, Open University Press. Peters, R. S. (Ed.) 1969, A Critique of Plowden's ‘Recognisable Philosophy of Education.’ Richards, C. 1984, The Study Of Primary Education, The Falmer Press. Robinson, K 2012. Taylor, F. W. 1911, The Principles of scientific management. Wilson, P. 1974, Plowden’s ‘Facts’ About Children: A Child Centred-Critique. Resources S.O.L.E. toolkit Richard Gerver and Sir Ken Robinson Free Montesori learning resources