Have you ever heard about the Montessori education?
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, revolutionized children education methods in the early nineteen century. Her concept is based on giving children independence, freedom within limits, and respect for their natural psychological development.
Through child-sized furnishings, “practical life” activities and selected teaching material, she observed a class of children aged 2 to 7, belonging to a low-income group of working families of Rome, discovering in them a deep attention and concentration, a spontaneous self-discipline, multiple repetitions of activity, and a sensitivity to order in the environment with more interest in practical activities and Montessori’s materials than in toys provided for them, and surprisingly unmotivated by sweets and other rewards.
She discovered a new role of the teacher, that shall remove the obstacles to let the children have an independent and spontaneous development, from which the motto “help me do it myself”.
Even if in Italy this method was abandoned for historical and political reasons and today is still not promoted, many concepts of Maria Montessori have been absorbed by the Italian school. The growing respect and care of the pupils, the child-size seats and desks, the usage of some materials in the pre-school are today a fact. By the way, thanks her emigration to the US, Maria Montessori was able to encourage to adopt her philosophy worldwide.
I had the privilege to see my daughter educated with Montessori method for a couple of years and I do subscribe the results.
Take a three years old energetic and naughty girl, put her in a bilingual context where she doesn’t speak a single word of any of those two languages (English and Chinese). Discover that the school has a morning program with a specialized Montessori teacher and materials. Take two expat parents still bind to the inherited traditional “win-loose” educational approach, but with a noble aspiration to give new opportunities to their child.
The result after two years was amazing, and I do thank that school and that teachers for the great contribute to my daughter’s education and most of all for the fresh instruments they gave us.
If you have the occasion to visit such kind of schools you can see many busy and silent little children pouring water in glass bowls, reading books, handling wooden blocks. At lunch they serve by themselves and they clean the plates. After an activity is finished they tidy the tables. At three years old they already wait their turn, change the clothes or wash the hands by themselves. They help each other, they ask with curiosity, they concentrate on their works. Nobody yells or forces or asks them to do in some way. They find their way. I was astonish when I saw it the first time, thinking those children were not normal and my daughter would never supposed to accept that environment.
My daughter is changed: she is independent, tolerant, methodical, free.
I’m changed too: I’m more respectful, open minded and disposed to listen to her.