[00:00.00]Listen to part of a lecture in an education class.[00:04.96]The professor is discussing the Italian educator Maria Montessori.
[00:09.93]Professor: Ok, if you did your reading for today, then you were introduced to a very influential alternative to traditional education.[00:18.60]This educational philosophy and methodology was pioneered in Italy in the early 1900s by Doctor Maria Montessori.[00:28.55]It's called the Montessori Method.[00:31.36]But what made the Montessori Method for young children so different?[00:36.17]What made it so different, so special?
[00:38.99]Male Student: It's based on very different ideas about how kids learn best, right?
[00:43.89]Professor: Um-hmm...It was groundbreaking.[00:46.66]To begin with, unlike the traditional classrooms at the time, the Montessori classroom environment was more suited to the child.[00:54.52]The furniture was child-sized.[00:56.73]Well, it's that way in almost all schools now, but that wasn't always the case.
[01:01.76]We can thank Montessori for this.[01:03.81]You won't see any long benches with children in rows or heavy desks that separate children.[01:09.83]Children are free to interact with each other.[01:12.91]And in Montessori classrooms, the furniture is lightweight, so children can move it around easily, and having furniture and materials made to fit them, makes kids feel more competent.[01:24.52]This fits in with Montessori's notion of liberty and autonomy.[01:29.00]Children are free to move around the room and they learn to do things for themselves.
[01:34.32]Male Student: I'm not sure I get that part.[01:36.13]It sounds like potential chaos.
[01:38.10]Professor: Oh, no, no, no.[01:39.57]Let's not confuse this liberty of activity with lack of discipline.[01:43.50]In fact, teachers have to maintain this specific environment carefully through a number of rules, which are generally about respect and what's right.[01:52.77]It's just that the child needs freedom of choice to develop independence and self-direction.
[01:58.99]Also, unlike what happens in most conventional classrooms, children choose their own activities.[02:05.57]They may be guided by the teacher, but it's ultimately up to each child to select tasks, which brings us to the manipulative equipment you find in a Montessori classroom, like little boards that have rough or smooth surfaces, or blocks that can be stacked into a tower.[02:25.79]Now this equipment was designed by Montessori over time with much experimentation, designed...well, designed to help children teach themselves through playing.
[02:39.30]Female Student: Well, what do the teachers do?[02:41.26]I mean if the kids are teaching themselves.
[02:44.33]Professor: Ah, well, that's a good question.[02:45.55]To start, a child may not work with an activity until the teacher has demonstrated its proper use.[02:53.64]Then the Montessori teacher's job is to observe the child's play, because when the children play, they are acquiring the bases for later concepts.[03:01.95]So the teacher helps motivate and focus each child and monitors the child's progress, but does not interfere with the child's observations and deductions.[03:11.73]That was and still is a novel idea, and for many teachers not the easiest thing to do.[03:18.55]In facts, for some, it’s very difficult.[03:21.54]Montessori herself called the teacher a director.[03:25.37]Remember, the independence of the learner lies at the heart of the Montessori methodology.
[03:30.90]Female Student: Ok, yeah, it does seem like that the teacher need a lot of training and patience.
[03:35.78]Professor: True.[03:36.98]As I said, it is not easy for a lot of teachers to step back like that, but getting back to the equipment.[03:43.25]Basic Montessori equipment can be divided into a number of major subject areas such as practical life, mathematics and what is called sensorial.
[03:55.05]With a sensorial equipment, the children can explore things like sounds and textures.[04:01.00]At the same time, they develop motor skills.[04:04.43]But this apparent play is laying the groundwork for the later math and language work.
[04:10.50]Now let's take a look at the materials called brown stairs.[04:15.55]For a young child playing with this graduated blocks, these brown stairs, they are not just a sensorial lesson.[04:24.17]By manipulating them, the child develops fine motor skills and by sorting and classifying them by size, by weight, the child learns some basic mathematics.[04:36.05]Similarly, with practical-life equipment, the child can learn how to button a shirt, cut up an apple for a snack and other real-world tasks.
[04:46.95]Male Student: Without this integration in real-world learning, is there any room for creativity?
[04:51.50]Professor: Is creativity encouraged?[04:53.89]Well, lots of Montessori teachers wouldn’t praise a child for using a violin as a baseball bat or for putting their head like a hat.[05:02.20]But actually, creativity comes through learning to play the violin, using the object for the purpose that was intended and practical life exercises stress that.