This article provide short notes on Madame Maria Montessori Theory of Child Education. After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Introduction to Madame Maria Montessori Theory of Child Education 2. Theories and Practices Advocated By Dr Montessori.
- Introduction to Madame Maria Montessori Theory of Child Education
- Theories and Practices Advocated By Dr Montessori
Introduction to Madame Maria Montessori Theory of Child Education:
Still, very little is being done in the field of pre-school education, especially, in a developing country as India. There is a fast growing trend for sending children to nurseries by the time they are three-year-olds or even earlier. It is a new trend; in bygone times, children were hardly sent to school before they were five-year-olds.
Actually, nursery is not a stage for imparting formal education; luckily some good nurseries have come up with a true conception of pre-school education. Talking with the Indian perspective in view, I may remark that a good many of our nurseries start schooling at that stage rather than preparing our kids in a better way for future schooling.
Let us first consider what is pre-schooling, and its need or importance. Schooling is a period when direct efforts are made to educate the children what is considered necessary for their persons as well as for the society that they belong to; and pre-schooling is to prepare the children for school education so that they may learn more, learn in a better way, in less time, and requiring less efforts on the part of the teachers.
If we consider the second part of the question, that is, whether the pre-schooling is needed or not, or what is its importance, the nature of pre-school education would be further defined.
The representative assembly in the USA passed the resolution in 1966 for expanding the general system of universal public education so as to provide opportunity for compensatory education, beginning “at the age of four for those children who, through economic or social deprivation, may be seriously impeded in their progress through public schools and consequently in participation in a democratic society…”.
Differing from the views of Mabel M Mitchell who had suggested amendment to delimit the Resolution for the disadvantaged children only, other educationists expressed their opinion that pre-school education should not be considered something required as “compensatory” for those only who are from families which are economically and socially deprived.
Though such an education is essential for the disadvantaged yet it is nice for all.
The period of three-four and five-years is a root period; only such fruit can sprout later, seeds for which are sowed during this period. This is the most impressionable period when maximum learning occurs. But, as learning occurs in proportion to the experiences offered by the environment, such an environment needs to be provided which may enable the child to enrich his experiences more.
Actually the child, because of his innate curiosity, is keen in exploring his environment intently, so what is needed is the programming of the environment so that it may be highly exciting, stimulating, and, may prove greatly helpful in learning to learn.
Only such environment may be exciting which provides umpteen opportunities for activities to the highly curious child, and, to the child who is full of energy, and enjoys remaining engaged in one or the other activity untiringly.
Consequently, deprivations during this period are “most disastrous”. To modify the harms caused because of deprivations during this period, is more difficult to do than to adopt preventive measures for all the children of this period—in some cases modification may not even be possible.
But this realisation should always be there that such a pre-school educational institution is not to replace the child’s home, it is only to complement it.
No institution, howsoever well-organised to the end of the maximum welfare of the child, can replace his home or family. A preschool educational institution should work for the objectives related to the four major areas—intellectual, emotional, social and physical.
“The intellectual goals include the promotion of curiosity, growth of language and generation of readiness for the intellectual activities that will come in later years.” The intellectual activities also include ability to observe and listen, to perceive things, to handle concepts and meet problems.
The range of the child’s experience is enhanced as a contribution of the intellectual development. The child’s early education can open new possibilities of learning by programming and enriching the environment to the end of his development.
The educator’s skilled guidance proves a very facilitating factor in furthering the intellectual growth of the child. The child comes in contact with many new items, and new situations in his environment and he indulges into a number of activities which provide him a lot many new experiences fostering his intellectual growth.
His home environment cannot open up so many vistas of learning as the programmed environment of the child’s educational institution can. It is literally the period when the child learns to learn.
For achieving the emotional goals of early education such an environment needs to be provided for the child where he may interact in the new extended social milieu consisted of so many other students and teachers with a feeling of security and self-respect.
For a wholesome emotional growth, it is essential that the child feels himself safe and important, but at the same time his egocentrism needs to be balanced by the development of a perspective where others become a part of this ‘ME’s’. Even for a proper intellectual growth, nothing can be more important than a sense of security and self-respect.
The child’s happiness or mental health would be depending upon such a sense. For making the environment of the nursery or kindergarten congenial for the emotional growth of the child, it is essential that the child feels that he can learn by himself, and he can also help others in learning. This generates a sense of self-respect and self-importance which is of crucial importance for the emotional growth of the child.
Early education can achieve its goals only if it is exciting for the child. The child has got a lot of curiosity, creativity and ‘spontaneous energy’— his education can be exciting only when it allows for a free positive play for these innate characteristics. These are the sources “from which a lifetime of learning can develop”. The school programme should be such which may enhance these qualities.
Of great importance is the teacher-parent co-ordination, for the emotional development, too, besides its being greatly helpful in the intellectual growth of the child. Off and on meeting of the mother to the nursery teacher may help the child in adjusting to the new environment that its school presents to him.
If the mother involved in the school experiences, the association of the teacher and the mother may be mutually beneficial; the teacher can better understand the child, and the parent can better assist the teacher in the achievement of goals of early education.
The third objective of early education is to develop the child as more social. With his entry into the nursery, wider social arena opens itself for the child where he needs to adjust himself. He happens to be surrounded by so many new faces it is a major objective of early education to enable the child to learn how to befriend his classmates, and how to behave towards his elders.
“A young child tends to see himself as the centre of the world,” what needs to be done for such a child, is to “balance his egocentricity with a concern for and responsibility toward others.” Such a development is a very important objective of the early education, and is basic towards the socialisation of the child.
One important thing in this respect is that the child is not to be taught only always to obey others he must be assertive too when his self- respect is hit, or when it is the other or others who need to adjust and not he. Respecting the rights of the child would always help in a better socialisation.
Child’s physical well-being or development is not an objective of lesser importance for early education. Sound mind in a sound body is a saying which, in general, is to remain a fact forever.
One who is physically weak, cannot have a zeal for learning, nor does his body permit him for exploratory pursuits to satisfy his curiosity, and thereby enhance his experiences which only can serve as a source for intellectual development.
Body and mind are interdependent, inter-related; the one affecting the function of the other. It is the common experience of each one of us, that a physical disturbance of any sort disturbs our mind. The physical disturbance may be overt from the external physical or social environment, or it may be caused in our body itself; the result is ever to be emotional upsetting.
If the school campus is not clean, open, adequately spacious; the air there is not cool and pollution-free, there being no lawns, plants and so on; and there are not suitable grounds and apparatus for the children to play, they cannot have an emotional attachment to their nursery school or kindergarten.
Nor, such an institution, and an institution with no airy, spacious, well-ventilated, furnished, suitably equipped and attractive classrooms, can be good for physical and emotional health of the child. Intellectual growth of the child is also definitely to be adversely affected under such physical conditions.
Play is the indispensable activity for the desirable physical growth of the child.
Selection of games should be in keeping with the age and physical capacity of the children; they should be such that the liking of the children for the same is natural. In the school, being run by the society that the author is associated to, we are having yoga as one of the physical activities of course a great care has been taken in the selection of the yoga-exercises that are perfectly suitable to the tender kids as they are.
Let our tots run, jump, throw a ball. Jack at the same, and enjoy swings of different sorts—all is good for their physical health, and for their mental health, too. The children should have occasions when they can sing and dance freely and also as a part of their education.
Theories and Practices Advocated By Dr Montessori:
Robert Travers finds certain of Dr Montessori’s propositions having their roots in psychology dating as back as Aristotle, some are of obscure origins or they represent speculation, while others constitute her novel contributions made to early child education.
J Mcvicker Hunt advises fans of Montessori, who consider the Madame as “sacrosanct”, to rediscover her methods. But in spite of these and other reservations, her contributions have occupied an important place in the annals of educational innovations.
Riley W Gardner considers the contributions of Dr Maria Montessori “of signal importance in their own rights”. In an address to the annual meeting of the American Montessori Society, in 1965, Gardner remarked, “The recent upsurge of interest among psychologists in cognitive processes, in individual differences, in structural arrangements of cognitive processes, and in the intimately related area of the development of specific cognitive skills, all contribute to a current Zeitgeist in psychology in which a closer look at the Montessori method is especially pertinent.”
The operation Head Start was a programme in America which involved various agencies of social service to provide such social experience to the children which are commonly available to the children of that age group but to the children from the low-income group families.
These social experiences were such which led to confidence, self-respect, better peer- relations, families’ ties more strengthened, broadening horizons for cognitive development and language competencies.
I feel the impact of Maria Montessori to have unconsciously worked upon the operations of Head Start which put so great a stress on social experiences that, generally, the children from the low socioeconomic strata of society happen to be deprived of; Dr Montessori looked at this deprivation as the inadequate sensorimotor preparation rather than inadequate cognitive potential.
She declared that lack of adequate sensorimotor experiences, was the cause of failure in later school years. The great psychological theorist of the twentieth century, Jean Piaget, also considers sensorimotor schemas to be basic in the cognitive development of the child; the same have been likened to the ground floor of the intellectual structures.
Both Piaget and Montessori believed that the sensorimotor nature of the young child’s intelligence could be understood only through an astute observation of his behaviour.
Montessori developed methods which could make it possible to achieve the maximal acceleration of cognitive development. The common thing in both the educationists was to evolve their theories, mainly, through observations of the children’s behaviour.
One very important similarity between Montessori and Piaget is that, they both believe that during the pre-operational stage, a child can manipulate transformations and other mental operations “only when he manipulates the object concretely”. This led Montessori to suggest the use of a number of sports-items and other gadgets or teaching-aids to concretize the teaching of the child.
The pre-operational period that succeeds the sensorimotor period ending by the end of the second year of the child, is the period when symbolic functions just start their appearance in their primitive forms, so concretization of teaching items is of immense importance during this period of pre-schooling.
Dr Montessori underlines the importance of environment as did Piaget, Rappaport and others during the latter half of the twentieth century. Only “richly varied early experience” can provide “an ample array of preliminary schemata”.
The previously developed schemata go on assimilating new experiences and the process of the development of cognitive abilities remains a continuum one. But the limitation that Montessori suffers from is her belief that environmental deficiencies can be fully compensated through the specially manufactured and ingeniously handled teaching devices or materials.
Such devices cannot broaden the range of sensorimotor interactions to the desired level and in the desired way—a broad range of affective and motivational factors can be available only in a naturally enriched environment.
Nevertheless, Montessori had given great importance to the interactions of the child with his environment for his intellectual development. The Montessori method seems to encourage accommodation to external realities in place of assimilation to the fantasies of the playful child.