The Montessori Learning Environment


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“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”- Maria Montessori

Montessori is an innovative, child-centered approach to education, developed a century ago by a woman ahead of her time. Working with institutionalized and inner-city youngsters, Dr. Maria Montessori was struck by how avidly the children absorbed knowledge from their surroundings. Given developmentally appropriate materials and the freedom to follow their interests, they joyfully taught themselves.

The goal of Montessori education is to foster a child’s natural inclination to learn. Montessori teachers guide rather than instruct, linking each student with activities that meet his interests, needs, and developmental level. The classroom is designed to allow movement and collaboration, as it also promotes concentration and a sense of order. Unique learning materials beckon from accessible shelves, inviting small hands to take on new challenges, 1 concept or skill at a time.

The intent of this course is to give you a glimpse of what a Montessori classroom looks like, feels like, and operates like. We will take a look at three main components. These topics will include the physical environment, the peaceful environment and the pupil's environment. A basic introductory to Montessori education is also provided so that you will feel more comfortable with the unique philosophy that Montessori provides to some of our students. As you explore these units, I hope that you will become more familiar with the Montessori pedagogy which focuses upon the whole child: spiritual, psychological, emotional and mental. I would love for you to be able to take some of the basic ideas seen here and apply them to your own classroom. Whether you take them all or you modify them to meet your needs, it is my goal to bring the Montessori history and some of the practices from the past to the forefront of today’s education system.

Introduction: The Montessori Method

Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896. Shortly afterwards, she was chosen to represent Italy at two different women's conferences, in Berlin in 1896 and in London in 1900.

In her medical practice, her clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn, and she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study psychology and philosophy. In 1904, she was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome. Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House." What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori's scientific observations of these children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally," by themselves, unassisted by adults. Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training—all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.

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Unit One: The Physical

Begin: Unit One: The Physical

In this unit, student will construct a model of what a Montessori classroom physically looks like and post it to a seperat Wiki page. Learners will also provide feedback on others' work.

Unit Two: The Peaceful

Begin: Unit Two: The Peaceful

In this unit, learners will implement a classroom management strategy that promotes peace.

Unit Three: The Pupil

Begin: Unit Three: The Pupil

In this unit, learners will read about a typical day in a Montessori school. They will reflect on some of the students' characteristics that are necessary to be successful.