The Montessori educational method, which was developed in the early 20th century for children and tweens, has become popular and widespread since its inception.
In this article we will describe the 8 fundamental principles of the Montessori method, Among which we can highlight the prepared environment and self-education.
What is the Montessori method?
Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician and educator whose work, mainly focused on the philosophy of education and pedagogy, has an antecedent of constructivism and continues to have a strong influence today.
The teaching method proposed by Montessori emphasizes the need to foster the natural development of student skills through self-direction, exploration, discovery, practice, collaboration, play, deep concentration, imagination or communication.
This pedagogical philosophy clearly departs from traditional pedagogical methods since it is based on spontaneity and student choice rather than rigid systems and based on compliance with certain academic evaluation criteria. For Montessori, respect and promotion of the independence of the child is essential.
In turn, the Montessori proposition is seen as a theoretical model of human development. In this sense, it is necessary to frame the principles of the section in the nuclear postulates of its theory: the people we build ourselves psychologically through interaction with the environment, And we have an innate tendency towards personal development.
Fundamental educational principles
Although the Montessori Method has been applied in different ways due to its popularity, it is possible to find in at least 8 fundamental principles of this pedagogical style based on the work of Montessori himself and later more popular developments.
1. Learn by discovery
Montessori’s pedagogical philosophy has a distinctly constructivist character. It is understood that people in general we learn best through direct contact, practice and discovery than by direct instruction. However, some subjects, especially from 6 years old, require ad hoc master classes.
2. Preparation of the educational environment
In the Montessori method, a “prepared environment” is used; this means that we try to adapt it to the needs of the students according to their age. In addition, it should encourage movement and performance of activities, be clean and tidy, be aesthetically appealing and have natural elements such as plants inside and outside the classroom.
3. Use of specific materials
One of the most important components of the Montessori prepared environment is the inclusion of certain materials that have been developed by Montessori itself and its collaborators. It is better to use natural materials, such as wood, than more artificial ones.
4. Personal choice of the student
Although the prepared environment has limits in the range of activities that students can access, it is still larger than that of traditional education and during most of the classroom time. you have the freedom to choose any educational material, game or content among those available in class.
Montessori spoke of “self-education” to refer to the active participation of students in their own learning. In this sense, the role of teachers is rather linked to preparation, supervision and assistance, as we will see later.
5. Classrooms by age groups
A very relevant aspect of the Montessori method is the fact that it is recommended that classrooms have a high number of students and that they be of different ages, although they are divided by age groups because of the specificities of development in each period. The separation is usually done in groups of 3 years (eg 6 to 9).
This is because Montessori argued that there are sensitive times when children have a greater ease in acquiring one or another type of skill and knowledge. Thus, in early childhood, it is important to develop language or the senses, while abstract thinking is encouraged especially from 6 years old.
6. Collaborative learning and play
Because students are free to choose their training mode, they will often decide to collaborate with their peers. This enables peer tutoring, Is particularly relevant to the game (Which plays an important role in socio-cultural development) and should be promoted by teachers.
7. Course without interruption
Another of the most characteristic features of the Montessori method is the presence of uninterrupted 3-hour lessons. Since they are mainly based on student self-direction, they should be much less boring than in traditional teaching; what is sought is to promote the attainment of a state of concentration which improves learning.
8. The teacher as guide and supervisor
In the Montessori method the teacher guides students’ learning by avoiding hindering their self-education process. Thus, their roles are linked to the preparation of the academic environment, to the observation of children to promote individualized learning, to the introduction of new teaching materials or to the provision of information.