Maria Montessori wrote in one of her famous book, that ‘during the early childhood, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child’s inborn psychic powers. This means that we cannot use the orthodox methods of teaching, which depends on talk’.
Carrel wrote this way,’ the period of infancy IS UNDOUBTEDLY the richest ,it should be utilized by education in every possible and conceivable way. The waste of this period of life can never be compensated. Instead of ignoring the early years, it is our duty to CULTIVATE them with the utmost care’’.
Though in my childhood days ,I always pretended to be a teacher in my Free-Plays, but when I started getting matured I never gave it a serious thought. Because to be a teacher was like an ordinary person, with LOWEST salary, poor self- image, lower rank socially and many more negative images and now after years and years of studying Psychology, Mind sciences ,Various systems of education and with lots of other Experiences in my life ,I come to the conclusion that this is the best and most respected profession in the entire world ,regardless of the salary factor.
To be a little more open ,when I worked in a Traditional Kindergarten , very different from a Montessori environment ,I used to hate my work, my class , my duties and responsibilities, not because I was scared of the work load, but because it was too UNNATURAL for me to teach that way and unnatural for children to learn . And only at that time, I realizes the importance of NATURAL LEARNING OF A CHILD WITHOUT KNOWING CONSCIOUSLY that he is learning, that’s the joy of learning.
Another amazing discovery for me is that by the age three, the child has already laid down the foundations of his personality. So someone rightly acknowledged this fact and said, "the child who goes to school is already a little man". And that’s why Dr. Montessori DISCOVERED that EDUCATION is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in a human being. And she rightly wrote in ABSORBENT MIND , “we teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon masters.”
Here comes the importance of the school and the teaching methods they follow, the teachers they choose , the classroom and environment they prepared, they all play a major role in the development of the child’s personality as a whole. I have personally witnessed the difference between the two systems of education; Traditional Kindergarten Versus Montessori, and for my surprise there is a huge difference, not only by the PHYSICAL appearances of the classrooms but the philosophy of the system differ more than I thought. It is so sad to witness that as man advances in all the other areas, he is giving least importance to the way of transferring knowledge to children. No one asks whether the child’s mind may be threatened , or even damaged, by defective and unsuitable educational methods.
The fundamental difference which I saw between any other system and the Montessori system is that CHILDREN learn little by LIistening to the words , rather practical work and experience lead the young to maturity.
As Montessori rightly pointed out that, “ we (adults ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE BY USING OUR BRAINS, but the child ABSORBS knowledge directly into his psychic life”. Impressions donot merely forms but enters his mind; they form it. The child creates his own mental muscles , which Montessori named as "ABSORBENT MIND".
Coming back to my personal experience as a Montessori teacher I discovered that children are free to walk and talk, they are free to choose whatever they want to do in a prepared environment. This is something amazing and is an example of natural flow of learning. As the children choose their work sometimes they indulge in a conversation which is another important part of their learning ,to talk and to socialize is very manly nature, he is infact a social animal and cannot grow and develop normally unless he expresses his desires and communicate his ideas and problems with his fellowmen.
Modern researches proved the importance of “ FREE PLAY” that this is a healthy way of growing and we should encourage this kind of play ,because that’s how a child learns how to deal with everyday problems and situations. This is amazing that Montessori discovered all these developmental patterns long before .
The other most amazing fact is that children developes ‘ A LOVE FOR LEARNING” in the Montessori classroom as against any other class where they start hating school .This is one of the blessings of a Montessori system, I remember the first time, when a child came to me and asked me, “teacher, can you please teach me this lesson , I like it too much”. Wow ! that’s was my reply because this kind of teacher- student relationship and love for work seldom exist in other classrooms. In traditional classrooms its really hard on teachers to create the atmosphere of true motivation and learning. This kind of natural Motivation is really needed if a man has to reach his maximum heights.
Another amazing fact about Montessori class is that the students do not need any Reward from outside (external re inforcers like stickers,behaviour charts etc.) the COMPLETION OF WORK is itself a reward in its every meaning and definition. A piece of work that a child starts ,the steps which he takes, the results which he is witnessing are REWARDS in itself. This kind of reward is hardly visible in another system of early education where teachers really think hard on how to motivate kids and what to give as a reward..
Simply in a montessori class. We don’t have these sort of problems…once again thanks Maria for your lovely discoveries.
Another classic discovery about Montessori classroom is the concept of INDIVIDUAL LESSONS. As contrary to other systems , Montessori greatly emphasizes the importance of OBSERVATION. When a teacher observes a child from her 'soul' , she never gets the wrong hints, this is miraculous and this determines the INDIVIDUAL CURRICULUM for a child, which can never be achieved in a classroom where teacher is works under stress ,and never have the chance to go deep inside into her students iminds nor she gets the opportunity to discover the true personality of the child with all its strength and weaknesses. The result is that she has to follow a certain curriculum for all of them regardless of their capacities and interests. While in a Montessori, a teacher observes the child so immensely that she know exactly what would be the next lesson for him. There comes the importance of FOLLOWING a child rather than following a particular curriculum. And it is witnessed in a Montessori class that children themselves teach the teacher on what should be the next” lesson plan.” It is the child who decides his Curriculum , and not the teacher.
So for me there are countless things which matter when a child enters a Montessori classroom rather than any traditional one.
Although the directress in a Montessori class has to be very vigilant and observant, she feels very comfortable and natural in her flow of teaching . So, now I greatly appreciate my decision to join a Montessori system of education as a teacher rather than landing on any highly decorated and colourful environment which takes EDUCATION as a transfer of facts to a mind , rather than a WHOLE PERSONALTY Development program and process.