Where to begin?
I usually begin to answer this question by saying ‘it is an alternative form of education.’ How I wish it was not ‘alternative’ but simply just the norm.
Maria Montessori – an Italian scientist – began constructing her philosophy based on what she observed within a group of less privileged children from San Lorenzo.
A little over a hundred years later, there is an ever growing Montessori community with legs in huge amounts of countries around the world.
The philosophy has however become confusing, as there are many strains and versions. In its purest form, it is education for peace, education for humanity, education as an aid to life, which boils down to a few simple points:
• creating independence for the child
• giving the child ‘keys’ with which to explore the world around him
• helping to nurture the children’s self-respect, respect for the environment and respect for others.
HOW do you do that?!
With a classroom – or ‘environment’ – that is a mini representation of life. Everything is child sized and enables the child to work through concepts created in the concrete (more on this in my next post!). Groups of around 35 children with as few adults as possible (2 or 3) allow the children to function as an interconnected mini society.
As adults, we are purely facilitators. We follow each individual child’s developmental needs. This therefore means supporting and furthering their learning emotionally, physically and academically. We look at education and children in a holistic manner. As we are role models ourselves, we need to take away any preconceived ideas of what WE think the children should learn, then turning to the children themselves and following their interests, using this important factor to bring on the concepts they find challenging.
So how do the children turn out?
They become little people who can adapt to change and enjoy learning. They are happy and care about others; on top of it, each child is confident, can make choices and then, self evaluate. AND have strong morals.
And what part does this play in your drive?
One of the charities we are supporting is Corner of Hope: a Montessori community set up in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp in Kenya. Here, not only are the children offered schooling, the women are given training which they can then take back to set up their own schools. Fingers crossed this pilot project will inspire and enable many more people to go on and create similar models. I will develop on this in a future post!
If you didn’t know anything about Montessori maybe you now know a little more, or you at least would like to find out more!
Here is a short video clip to watch offering a different way of explaining it! Happy watching!