Monday, May 16, 2016

Montessori Schools in St. Louis

What does the term Montessori mean? If you have children, you may have heard the term “Montessori” when it comes to education. The term comes from the name Maria Montessori who created an educational approach based on her extensive research of children who had special needs. Although Montessori’s work began at the turn of the 20thcentury, it is embraced today by many educational institutions.


What is the Montessori Method?

The emphasis of the method itself is based on providing independence, engaging in freedom with certain limitations, and respecting the child’s physical, social, and psychological development. Although there are a number of practices that work under the Montessori Method, all of them have certain characteristics in common.
-       Constructive model of education as opposed to direction oriented from the teacher
-       Children ranging in age from 2 ½ up to 6 years old
-       A three hour minimum block time for work
-       Student choice in types of activities
-       Can move around the classroom
-       Use of specialized educational materials

All of these paths combine into the Montessori Method which is used around the world for the education of children. The activities are led by a teacher trained in this particular method.
History of Montessori Education

Maria Montessori began developing the concept for her method of teaching back in 1897. She attended the University of Rome and attended courses in pedagogy while reading on teaching theories for children that went back over two centuries. Over the next decade, Maria began developing theories about the proper teaching of children based on observation as well as experimentation.

By 1907, Maria had opened up her first classroom called the Children’s House located in a tenement building in Rome. Her work was noticed by Alice and Leopold Franchetti of Citta di Castello because it matched much of the work that they were doing. It was this collaboration that led to Maria and the Franchetti’s to publishing the system called, “Method Franchetti-Montessori”. The book was a popular one for years until the fascists that took over Italy had it removed from the shelves because Alice Franchetti was Jewish.

 By 1911, the Montessori method spread to the US and it became very popular. However, a book critical of the Montessori Method was published by William Heard Kilpatrick in 1914 titled, “The Montessori System Examined” and the result was that the method Montessori developed virtually disappeared until 1960. At that time, a renewed interest in the system was such that it spread across the US with thousands of schools adopting the various methods that were taught.
Maria Montessori never stopped extending her work on developing the method that would reach from birth up to 24 years old using the established psychological models of development. Maria would write and lecture about the various models for learning that applied to different age groups of children, but she would not see most of the incorporated into school systems during her lifetime.

The Montessori Method is one that is based on the model for human development and teaching within its parameters. The belief is that children who are given the choice to act within that environment will develop educationally at the most optimal rate.

This article was reprinted with permission from STL Schools