Friday, July 20, 2007

Why Choose Montessori: Intellectual, Behavioral, Emotional Autonomy

child looks at parts of a plant why choose NAMC montessori autonomy

The American Montessori Society (AMS) states that “The aim of Montessori education is to foster autonomous, competent, responsible, adaptive citizens who are life-long learners and problem solvers”. (Montessori Education: Key Concepts and Practices, 1990)

Autonomous: auto (self) + nomos (law) = “self-ruling or self-regulating”

Montessori said there are three types of autonomy: Intellectual Autonomy, Physical Autonomy, and Emotional Autonomy. By developing all three, a person is capable of becoming in charge of his or her own life.

One of the reasons so many parents choose Montessori is because they want to help their children on their journey to autonomy, independence and success. What does this mean for Montessori students?

Why Choose Montessori:  Intellectual, Behavioral, Emotional Autonomy


Intellectual Autonomy: Intellectual autonomy is being able to think for oneself while maintaining reason. It means thinking through issues using one’s own thinking rather than blindly accepting the viewpoints of others. When provided with concrete experiences, students progress to abstract concepts. They are able to reflect upon their strengths and learn from their weaknesses. In fact, they seem to grow from these intentionally.

Intellectual autonomy utilizes metacognition (thinking about thinking). There are three steps in metacognition:
  • Developing an action plan - What is my prior knowledge? What should I do first? How long will this take me? What materials will I need?
  • Maintaining and monitoring the action plan - What is important information? How am I doing? What else do I need? What should I do if I don’t understand?
  • Evaluating the action plan – How did I do? What could I have done differently?

Physical (or Behavioral) Autonomy: Those who are physically autonomous demonstrate a willingness and ability to be independent and take care of them. They know and follow behavioral expectations. They are able to manage their work spaces in order to avoid distractions. In addition, they take care of their own personal health and hygiene.

Emotional Autonomy: Emotional autonomy is defined in terms of relationships with others and includes relinquishing dependencies and individuating from parents (Steinberg, 1999). It represents the ability to feel for one’s self. Emotionally autonomous individuals are self-confident and no longer feel the need to rely on peer approval. They learn to be aware of others. They are empathetic, employ active listening techniques, and are aware of physical boundaries and body language as a means of communication. They are also able to monitor their own health and well-being and are successful at managing anxiety and stress.

Montessori education, by fostering autonomy, helps create children who are:
  • Confident, competent learners
  • Independent and intrinsically motivated
  • Self-aware
  • Socially responsible
  • Citizens of the World
  • Advocates for peace and justice

why choose NAMC montessori autonomy preschool classroom guideTo learn more about Montessori philosophy, consider ordering one of NAMC’s Montessori Classroom Guides today!

For more information relating to this blog, please feel free to visit our posts entitled Why Choose Montessori: Montessori vs. Contructivism, and Why Choose Montessori: Educating the Human Potential.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 20, 2007.

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