The Secret of Childhood: 'Help me to do it by myself!'
As Maria Montessori stated in her book, The Secret of Childhood, “the children themselves found a sentence that expresses the inner need: 'Help me to do it by myself !'" Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to qualify as a physician. She developed an interest in the diseases of children and in the needs of those said to be 'ineducable' In the case of the latter she argued for the development of training for teachers along Froebelian lines (she also drew on Rousseau and Pestalozzi) and developed the principle that was also to inform her general educational programme: first the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect.Maria Montessori developed a teaching programme that enabled 'defective' children to read and write. She sought to teach skills not by having children repeatedly try it, but by developing exercises that prepare them. These exercises would then be repeated: Looking becomes reading; touching becomes writing. (See The Montessori Method). The success of her method then caused her to ask questions of 'normal' education and the ways in which failed children.
Maria Montessori had the chance to test her programme and ideas with the establishment of the first Casa dei Bambini (Children's house or household) in Rome in 1907. (This house had been built as part of a slum redevelopment). This house and those that followed were designed to provide a good environment for children to live and learn. this children engaged in exercices de la vie pratique (exercise in daily living). These and other exercises were to function like a ladder - allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress. 'The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child's whole personality' (Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind: 206).
Why Montessori Learning is So Effective:
I was fascinated with the Montessori philosophy when I learned about it 12 years ago. After practicing it for the past 12 years, it is still one that I believe in! There is a true understanding of a child through this philosophy, because it works for children of all different backgrounds.
In the past 9 years that I have had my school, I had children from many different cultures who did not understand the English language, from happy couples and families, single parents and parents going through separation or divorce, children raised by grandparents and children whom have never been around other children, all under the same roof at the same time, in peace and harmony following the same structure, rules and regulations, and interacting with each other. How is this possible? Because, as Maria Montessori believed, children have the same needs and go through the same cycles during the most crucial/primary developmental stages in the first 6 years of their lives!
Montessori employs 3 different stages in the same classroom (environment) because children love to learn from each other, like siblings. Research shows that children mimic and learn from their siblings more than they learn from parents! Children also tend to build self-confidence and self-esteem being in the same environment, through the experience of starting as the youngest and growing into being the oldest within that environment. "Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." - - Maria Montessor
The best attribute of a Montessori classroom environment is the nurturing nature of it. Younger groups look up to the older ones, and older groups have the nurturing and protective behavior towards younger group. The world out there is so competitive that people waste more energy on trying to be better than the next person, that to learn to be themselves.
Montessori philosophy allows the child to learn and experience life at his/her own pace. This creates desire in the child, a desire for learning and experiencing everything around him/her. The desire to know and to learn, in the third year, develops into the desire to pass on the knowledge to the younger ones.
Did you know… "Throughout history, Inventors and technical innovators have had lots of common traits. They are extremely bright, creative, and they think outside-the-box. But here’s something you may not know about the prominent innovators listed below: they all went to Montessori schools!
- Thomas Edison, American Inventor
- Henry Ford, Manufactured the first car
- Larry Page, Google Founder & CEO
- Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder
- Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
- Will Wright, Video Game Pioneer
- Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia"
The teacher is the 'keeper' of the environment.
This connected with a further element in the Montessori programme - decentring the teacher. While children got on with their activities the task was to observe and to intervene from the periphery. (Here there are a number of parallels with Dewey). The focus on self-realization through independent activity, the concern with attitude, and the focus on the educator as the keeper of the environment (and making use of their scientific powers of observation and reflection) - all have some echo in the work of informal educators. However, it is Maria Montessori's notion of the Children's House as a stimulating environment in which participants can learn to take responsibility that has a particular resonance.
Unique Academy focuses on what The primary goal of a Montessori program is, to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specially prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, time to enjoy the process and ensure the development of self-esteem, and provide the experiences from which children create their knowledge.