Capturing Ordinary Days:
What does it mean to “direct” a Montessori elementary classroom? What tools do we have at our fingertips—explained and explored during our teacher training—to facilitate the carefully crafted learning experience we prepare for the children? Montessori teachers have a means to maintain a continuous progress assessment for each child, but in a classroom of differentiated learning practices how can that be maintained? When and how do we need to intervene with a child?
1. Flowers (3:13)
2. Going Out (12:40)
3. Psychogeometry (5:57)
Delving Deeper Into Our Craft:
Montessori Education: The Importance of Direction and Intervention
by Gary Goodwin
Every facet of authentic work in Montessori has a guiding principle underlying its practice. These principles follow from remarkable observations of the child in the course of his fundamental development. Dr. Montessori’s observations led to discoveries: that the child’s development follows natural laws that are universal among all children. These laws are expressed in tendencies which engage and underlie the child’s formative activity. Education can only be meaningful if it first considers who the child is and takes into account this profound process of human construction.
The pedagogical principle we use follows from these observations: as teachers we look out for and are guided by the child’s expression of these tendencies that inform what and when we present to the child. Also in keeping with these principles, the child requires an environment prepared by the adult with tools designed especially to attract the interest and activity-response characteristic of his plane of development... READ MORE
The Core of the Elementary Classroom
Excerpts from Margaret Stephenson’s work of The Core of the Elementary Classroom, “Help me to help myself”
Trained by Maria and Mario Montessori, the late Margaret E. Stephenson devoted her life to training both teachers and trainers in the United States. Noted as a brilliant lecturer, she possessed an extraordinary knowledge of Dr. Montessori’s work.
The following are selective excerpts from her essay The Core of the Elementary Classroom.
“Another tendency of man from his first beginnings is communication. The child at the first plane creates his language, his mother-tongue, and learns to speak it and to read and write it, if he is lucky, in the Casa dei Bambini his parents chose. At the second plane of development, since this is the stage where the child works through reason, language, the tool of reason’s expression, is significant. Language is the thread that ties together all the elements of cosmic education.
“Another human tendency, which made it possible for the first men to survive and to invent, is the tendency to imagine. Only the imagination can enable the child to explore the universe at its creation, the furnishing of it with plants and animals, the coming of man into the world. The lessons and presentations are useless without the impressionistic charts and timelines, the personification of the experiments, the allegory in the stories. What are you doing in a Montessori classroom if your charts are gathering dust in the cupboard?”
“Dr. Montessori, from her medical background, has told us that in this second plane of development the child is strongest physically and possessed of great intellectual capacity. We cannot, therefore, waste these years. The cosmic plan of education does not mean that the child and adult do nothing except wait to be inspired. The teacher has to give all the elements, because without the presentations of stories, materials, and skills, the child cannot possibly begin to be interested in the cosmos and to work.
“For the child from six to nine, the teacher should be giving story after story after story after story. From nine to twelve the child is invited to hear the stories again, as they are given to the newcomers from the children’s house and as they are repeated for the six to nine class. The nine to twelves are struck with new details to be examined. The five “Great Lessons” are the opening stories of the drama that is the creation of the universe, the furnishing of it with plant and animal life, the coming of man and his two great achievements, language and mathematics. Within these stories are others which form the key lessons, which fill in the details of the environment and its chemical and mineral components: the details of the life of the species of plant and animal; the history of man from his coming on earth and the creation of his societies; the development of the tool of language, in both its spoken and written form; and man’s inventions and creations, which are the fruit of his mathematical mind. The whole of cosmic education affords story material, and while working with it, the child can be perfecting his literary and mathematical skills.”
In Her Words
In chapter 2 titled “Metamorphoses” of her book Childhood to Adolescence, Dr. Montessori explores the elementary child’s “turning towards intellectual and moral” development:
“The passage to the second level of education is the passage from the sensorial, material level to the abstract. The need for abstraction and intellectual activity makes itself felt around the seventh year. Until that age the establishment of the relationships between objects is what is important to the child. This is to say that the child needs to classify and absorb the exterior world by means of his senses…” READ MORE