Benefits of incorporating Montessori Education in schools
A traditional form of teaching is focused on teacher-centric education where the syllabus is pre-decided by the mentors and subjects are taught based on their hypothesis of what is important for kids. This type of learning was challenged way back in the 20th century when Maria Montessori came up with an innovative method of Montessori pedagogy where the teaching process was moulded and the curriculum was drafted with a student-centric approach.
What is Montessori Education?
Montessori education focuses on individual student’s interests and learning needs and navigates the facilitation accordingly. It involves mentors who will work more on guiding process rather than being experts and teaching lessons as if they know everything about the subject.
This pedagogy promotes independent thought and ability to think about your likes and dislikes more clearly while experimenting throughout the learning process.
It is devoid of conventional grade or marking system and nurtures the child’s inherent abilities by letting them learn at their own pace. The Montessori way of learning also involves mixed-age classrooms, wherein students can engage with peers of different age groups and exchange their individual knowledge to each other.
A Montasseri classroom is referred to as a prepared classroom since it is constructed thoughtfully considering all types of needs and interests which will ensure that no child feels isolated but rather motivated to learn something out of the existing resources. The infrastructure and furniture is light weighted and designed in a way that will be easily handled by children of young age.
The positioning of mentor and students does not establish any sort of hierarchy but more open and one can see the child wandering around the space, exploring the subjects, asking doubts when in need and continuing his/her learning process. The mentor won’t be daunting and give constant instructions to kids, but assist them and participate in their learning process themselves. It enhances practical over theoretical ways of learning.
History of Montessori Education
In 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori, opened a Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), to provide education to low-income children in Rome. Instead of using traditional teaching methods, Maria Montessori began testing her own child-centered educational theories in the classroom.
This idea was originated when she was visiting the asylums in Rome where she examined children with mental disabilities. Her observations regarding that experience and studying the works of 19th-century physicians and educators Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguin influenced her work ahead. It led her to implementing some prevailing methods of teaching children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
She opened up a full-day childcare center in San Lorenzo. The students who attended the space were toddlers, of age 3 – 7, who were left to their own devices while their parents were off to their work. This center offered a high-quality learning environment and became the first Casa dei Bambini or Montessori set up as wel call it today.
In India, this system was implemented by Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi much before Maria Montessori’s visit to the country. They were well-aware of her methods and supported the thought of experiential learning from a young age. Tagore went ahead to establish ‘Tagore-Montessori’ schools, like Shantiniketan, by the early 20th century in India.
When she came to India, Maria Montessori began to spread this school of thought with the formation of preschools and schools that are currently affiliated to Association Montessori Internationale. She continued to do her work and provide training regarding her methods in India even when she was forced to live in exile for the remainder of the war.
Advantages of imparting Montessori Education in preschools and schools.
- Brings more Inclusivity – Undoubtedly, Montessori education provides more scope for comprehensiveness and can ensure that every child gets to work on his/her interests independently. They are free to learn at their pace plus being in a mixed-age classroom can expose them to different perspectives that are not necessarily their lived experiences. It helps specially abled children to grasp the subject according to the methods that suit their needs.
- Supports independent thoughts and autonomy in learning – Montessori pedagogy can offer more experimentation to students and a sense of decisiveness since young age as they are permitted to explore around in a secure spacea and learn with their own practice. They can ask for guidance and suggestions to the mentors but won’t feel the pressure to follow a certain path of understanding a subject. They can come up with their learning methods as well and share it with their facilitators.
- Presence of freedom is supplemented with a sense of responsibility – Since this pedagogy allows a more autonomous way of learning, it also makes students more responsible since they are the decision makers in the process.
- Active and hands-on learning – Montessori education involves specialized materials or objects that can stimulate learning and gives a practical experience. Students take a lead in making their curriculum so it eventually becomes a more interactive process and not a passive one to many communication where the teacher is busy advising or giving lectures and students are busy following their instructions.
- Prepared environment offers free movement – Instead of having a class with a structured setup of benches, table, chair and a blackboard, a prepared environment gives a more creative and exciting space where students can wander around and occupy the space, and be indulged in their tasks.
- Promotes timely self-evaluation – Facilitators can guide and ask students to evaluate often and observe their learning methods. If needed, they can suggest improvisations and students can look at their outcomes in a more constructive way. Montessori education allows the space for critical skills as well.
How to integrate Montessori pedagogy in a traditional classroom
Even though Montessori education offers a more engaging way of learning, it is considered expensive because of the dynamic set up it involves, and hence not necessarily accessible to everyone. Moreover, in the current world, where grades and degrees are prioritised, getting in Montessori type of education throughout the schooling won’t be considered practical enough for students to pursue future careers that focus on this grading system.
But incorporating Montessori learning in a traditional system is possible in small ways. How?
- Wherever possible, allow students to choose their way of learning and keep the process more flexible. Ensure that you become part of that education more as a facilitator who is up for learning instead of being an expert who knows it all.
- Develop interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary ways of learning that can make education a fun and exciting process. Replace theory with practice wherever feasible. Definitions can be understood well when they learn the concept practically and come up with their own versions of understanding about it. However simplified it might be, the knowledge would be important.
Education institutes can look forward to picking the best of both worlds and accommodate what is feasible according to current times. Educators need to be open to amendments and evolving their teaching process according to changing times and choose what’s beneficial for their pupils overall, as it will only help ij cultivating great minds that bring forward a more mature perspective in the world ahead.