Maria Montessori was a female physician and educator who is most famous for her child-centered education approach known as the Montessori Method of education. Her approach was largely based on scientific observation of children and has been used for over 100 years in education systems around the world.
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say,
’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’
The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society(AMS) cite these elements as essential child learning elements:
- Mixed age classrooms; classrooms for children ages 2½ or 3 to 6 years old are by far the most common, but 0–3, 3–6, 6–9, 9–12, 12–15, and 15–18-year-old classrooms exist as well.
- Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options.
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours.
- A constructivist or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction.
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood, rather than plastic.
- A thoughtfully prepared environment where materials are organized by subject area, within reach of the child, and are appropriate in size.
- Freedom of movement within the classroom.
- A trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, tendencies, innate talents and abilities.
Her work was often referred to as “scientific pedagogy”. She sought to change the education system by not just using observation and measurement of student performance, but for the development of new methods to help transform students. She said : “The new (teaching) methods if they were run on scientific lines, ought to change completely both the school and its methods, ought to give rise to a new form of education.”