Dr Maria Montessori (born 1870 in Italy) began her profession not as an educator but as a doctor of medicine. After extensive experience in medical practice and research she studied education, philosophy, psychology and anthropology. She understood the child’s need to achieve balance, orientation and competence.
Fundamental to the Montessori approach is a great respect for the child as an individual.
Leading the child towards mastering his environment is the aim of the school. Freedom to move and work is limited only because the child needs to see himself/herself as one of a group. The liberty of the child has as its limit the collective interest.
The Montessori directress is concerned with the total development of the child: physical, social, emotional and intellectual.
Fundamental Principles of Montessori Schools
Principles adopted at the 2011 SAMA AGM
Principle 1: Classes in Montessori Schools are mixed-age and non-graded.
Mixed-age classes comprise at least three-year groupings corresponding to the Planes of Development viz 3-6; 6-9; and 9-12 or 6 – 12; 12-15 and 15-18 or 12 – 18.
Mixed-age groups are not correlated to grades, nor are they divided in others ways according to achievement levels or normative standards.
Principle 2: Montessori schools accommodate an extended period of uninterrupted self-chosen activity – a period during which children can choose their own activity and work undisturbed for a minimum of three hours.
Principle 3: Rewards and Punishments are not used in a Montessori environment.
Principle 4: A prepared environment is a critical component of Montessori Pedagogy.
The prepared environment:
Serves the developmental and pedagogical needs of the children using it;
Supports freedom of movement, speech and association;
Supports free choice of activity;
Facilitates normalization and valorization;
Includes a full range of Montessori materials appropriate to the age for which it is prepared.
Principle 5: The adults in the Montessori environment exhibit and apply the principles of Montessori pedagogy through:
A disposition of respect and patience towards the child;
An ability to balance the principle of non-intervention while at the same time not abandoning the child;
Trust in Montessori principles, methodology and pedagogical aims;
Seeing the role of the adult as primarily observer, scientist and interpreter of the environment rather than as a teacher in the conventional sense;
Guiding the child to normalization and development appropriate to each Plane of Development.
Principle 6: Montessori schools develop curriculum guidelines which conform with the vision of child development and the educative goals outlined by Maria Montessori.