Why Greater Montessori
Dr. Montessori carried her message across the globe, including the United States in 1912. Dr. Nancy Rambusch established the American Montessori Society in 1960. Montessori education in the United States appeals to those who embrace the emphasis on its outcomes for students. The American parents who originally chose Montessori education shared the views of child rearing.
They saw their children as moral beings,who, over time, would become the socially responsible people Montessori had envisioned. And they saw their children becoming confident, competent learners. These outcomes we aspire to teach are lifelong developments.
The original Montessori agenda of learner outcomes are as follows:
Is the child able to choose his or her own work, apply energy to that work, complete it to a personal criterion of completion, take and return the work to the place it is customarily kept, in such a way that another child will be able to find the work ready to do? Is the child able to seek help? Is the child able to locate resources to continue the self-chosen task without necessarily involving the teacher?
Confidence and Competence:
Are the child’s self-perceived successes far more numerous than his or her self-perceived failures? Is the child capable of self-correcting their work upon observation, reflection, or discussion? Can the child manage the available array of “materials” with a clear sense of purpose?
Can the child accept or reject inclusion in another child’s work or work group with equanimity?
Is the child drawn to continue working for the apparent pure pleasure of so doing? Does the child, once having achieved a particular competence, move on to revel in mastery by showing others?
Ability to Handle External Authority:
Is the child able to accept the “ground rules” of the group as appropriate in his or her dealing with other children? Is the child, distant from the teacher, able to function as if the teacher were nearby?
Independent and autonomous persons are always a part of a group and must attain independence and autonomy through participation in group activity. The loss of these qualities by one of a group is a loss for all. Do students attain independence and autonomy and, at the same time, develop social responsibility?
In Montessori education, children learn to learn by learning.Academic preparation entails activation and cultivation of inherent powers andprocesses through which the learner becomes a supplier of meanings or of thingsmeaningfullyknown. Academic skills are essential to learning and knowing, not the aimof learning and knowing. Do students acquire academic skills and apply them inlearning to learn?
Montessori views the child as a spiritual embryo. Implications areconveyed by the metaphor. All humans are spiritual beings as well as physical beings.They have spiritual health as well as physical health. Montessori sees no need toestablish whether or not the source of spirit is theological and does not offer theologicalexplanation. The spiritual embryo simply thrives on spiritual investment. The investmentcan be theological, humane, or a combination of the two. What are the spiritualoutcomes of school experience?
Citizens of the World:
All children are part of both a world political system and a worldecological system. Both systems have their constitutions, and all must learn to live by theletter and spirit of their laws. As a naturalist, Montessori knew about the laws of mindand of nature and understood the consequences of disobeying either of them. Whatare the citizenship outcomes of school experience? Are the children acquiring civicvirtue? Are they acquiring dispositions to understand the natural world, to cherish it, andto live harmoniously within it?
“The greatest gifts that we can give our children are roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”