Who developed the Montessori philosophy?
Italian physician Maria Montessori began developing her educational philosophy in a preschool in Rome in 1907. Following the publishing of her book The Montessori Method in 1909, her pedagogy became a phenomenon, spreading throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Today “Montessori” is a philosophy with more than 100 years of research, development, and student outcomes behind it.
Teaching Life Skills and Academics
Montessori education fosters independence, self-esteem, social awareness, empathy, resilience, problem solving, and creative thinking—characteristics that will serve students far beyond school. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have credited their success to their Montessori education: “It was that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated and questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently,” Page said.
What Distinguishes Montessori?
Montessori Materials: Wherever you are in the world, you can recognize a Montessori classroom. That’s because Maria Montessori designed particular materials emphasizing hands-on learning in different subjects. The materials are very concrete in Primary and become more abstract as children grow older.
Independence Building: The Montessori classroom is built for independence. Students take and return work to shelves appropriate for their height. In Children’s House, they make their own snack and wash their own dishes. In Elementary, students prepare food and care for the physical environment, classroom pets, and plants. In meetings, they learn to come to a consensus on decisions for the community with a sense of justice and empathy.
Mixed-age Environments: In mixed-age classrooms, younger students model their older peers’ behavior, feeling curious and motivated to follow in their footsteps. In turn, older students glean a clear sense of their progress, become classroom leaders, and reinforce their own lessons by showing them to younger peers.
Individualized Learning: In a Montessori classroom, no two students’ days are alike. They are free to follow their curiosity and deeply explore their favorite subjects by selecting assignments that are laid out for them. But while students might gravitate toward certain areas, their teachers monitor that they are making progress in all subjects. Older students learn how to use daily, weekly, and monthly planners to track their own progress toward mastery of concepts and completion of projects.
The Prepared Classroom: A Montessori classroom is a thoughtfully constructed and designed space that is curated to meet the needs of the class on each day. Before students arrive and after they leave, their teachers will set out new lessons. In the Lower School, students learn from teachers in small groups and independently take lessons from the Montessori materials on the shelves.