What do the founders of Google, Wikipedia, Amazon and Mr. Rogers have in common?
All received or advocated for Montessori education that supports and promotes:
Respect for self, others, and the environment
- Teachers create a community for beginning socialization skills with children and their peers in mixed-aged classrooms
- Children are responsible for cleaning up after themselves at mealtimes and throughout the work cycle, in addition to assisting with practical life opportunities caring for the classroom
- Teachers are continuous models for respectful interactions
The development of concentration
- Materials are presented in a way that entices children
- Children work at their own pace and actively explore materials so learning is meaningful and attention is sustained
- The completion of a full work cycle is supported and encouraged
- The schedule of the day is flexible and allows children to work uninterrupted
- Children are active participants in complex multiple step processes throughout the day
Organization and independence in students
- Materials are available on low shelves so children can self-initiate work
- Children are active participants in all care routines
- The environment is set up in a way that allows children to be successful with minimal adult intervention
In a 2004 interview, the founders of Google directly attributed their problem solving philosophy to their Montessori education. Columbus has its own premier Montessori education program in Columbus Montessori Education Center (CMEC). Since 1984, CMEC has championed the need for quality early childhood education and advocacy throughout Ohio.
Maria Montessori – founder of the Montessori Education Method
Although Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was a pioneer in the field of education, she was trained as a physician, not a teacher. Free of educational doctrine and theory, she instead relied upon a holistic, multidisciplinary background in medicine, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology in her research with children.
Through her scientific observations of children, Montessori made a dramatic discovery — “the child’s true normal nature” — more capable, competent and potent than traditionally believed. Montessori observed that in an environment which allows for purposeful, self-directed activity, children become spontaneously absorbed in self-selected work, appearing calm and refreshed when complete.
Repeated experiences of “spontaneous concentration” transform the child’s personality to one of joy, tranquility, compassion, and curiosity; one that is capable of profound engagement and concentration! Montessori believed this to be the “normal” state of psychic health, because she observed this phenomenon with children throughout the world.
Montessori also believed the child can only become himself through the development of concentration and the will. Three hour work periods are an essential feature of a Montessori classroom.
Rather than an arbitrary bell or time limit dictating the amount of time allotted for learning, children are permitted to continue working until they feel complete. Continuous opportunities for repetition educate the child’s hands, and cycles of activities complete the child by enabling him to coordinate his movements and deepen his concentration.
Believing that children construct themselves through personal effort and engagement, the child in the prepared environment, is free to move about and choose activities of his own interest. The prepared environment encourages exploration, movement, and focused activity, because children learn by doing. Montessori classrooms have multi-aged groupings, which reduce competition, provide each learner time to develop relationships with the teacher and one another, as well as to take on the role of both learner and teacher (older students will often give presentations to younger students).
Although the focus of Montessori’s work was on the individual child, the goal of her work encompassed the whole of society. She viewed the spirit of the child as the world’s greatest resource and felt if we wanted to improve the world, we must start by supporting the natural development of the child.
Check out this video illustration by Trevor Eissler, Montessori parent and author or Montessori Madness.