“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field, in which seeds may be sown to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore, is not merely to make the child understand and memorise facts but to touch his imagination and to interest the child to his innermost core.
We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones: we seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help the child grow mentally, socially, emotionally and physically.”
Dr. Maria Montessori 1870 – 1952
Dr. Maria Montessori was one of the most influential pioneers in early childhood education this century. She was Italy’s first female doctor before stepping into the field of early childhood education. As a person of great depth and insight, Maria Montessori observed that children concentrated when they were interested in an activity and in its repetition. They liked order and worked to maintain it. They also preferred real work to play and chose everyday useful items over conventional toys. They liked working quietly and took pleasure in taking care of themselves. The children did not need to be rewarded for their work and liked choosing their own activities, as well as correcting their own mistakes. Montessori saw education as holistic and developmental, with the child at the centre of everything. She concluded that children have a natural love of life and learning which needed to be nurtured, rather than taken for granted.
This philosophy was put into practice in her first Montessori school in Rome in 1907. Dr. Montessori left a legacy to the world with an educational method based on the central ideas of freedom within a carefully planned and structured environment. She believed that children are intrinsically motivated to learn and that they absorb knowledge without effort when provided with the right kind of activities at the right stage of development. Montessori viewed play as important work that the child carries out. So work for the child is something that the child enjoys, is interesting and has value for him. She therefore put value on the child’s play in the class by calling it work.
Her deep commitment to children led her to become a champion in the research and development of their education. She was an ambassador for the UNICEF Charter of Human Rights and a strong advocate for world peace. As a result, the UNICEF ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ were adopted directly from her.
(Source: Helen Wheatley, Montessori Child magazine)