Monday, July 30, 2007

Why Choose Montessori: Educating the Human Potential

children studying biology why choose NAMC montessori human potential
As a parent, you want to be able to choose the best education possible for your child. But, with so many options available, what is the best choice? After all, the decision will impact your child for the rest of his or her life. So, why, with all these choices, should one choose Montessori?

The truth is, there are more reasons to choose Montessori than could ever be put down in writing, but in this installment of NAMC's Why Montessori? series, learn how your child's potential is unlimited.

Why Choose Montessori: Educating the Human Potential

Character (Citizen) Education
Dr. Montessori focused her method on the whole child – physically, spiritually, emotionally and academically. She spent a great deal of time studying and modeling character-virtues and included lessons such as grace and courtesy and conflict resolution. Even the “prepared environment” assures awareness to order and self-discipline. In To Educate the Human Potential, Montessori said “…education at this age [elementary] concerns the child’s exploration of the moral field, discrimination between good and evil... In the field of morality, the child now stands in need of his own inner light.”

Children today need character education more than ever. In a world where celebrity status is commonly confused with being a hero, how do we help children establish their own sense of virtue and morality? Montessori believed that children learn wisdom, virtue, courage, honesty, and character by hearing, reading, and telling stories that model these virtues. Stories about the human condition give meaning to our own existence. We must model the best in order for our children to achieve their best.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Dr. Arthur Costa of the University of California at Sacramento and co-founder of the Institute for Intelligent Behavior says that:

Students in the 21st century must come fully equipped with the skills that enable them to think for themselves, to be self-initiating, self-modifying, and self-directing. They must acquire the capacity to learn and change consciously, continuously, and quickly. They will require dispositions beyond that of mere content knowledge. They must possess skills beyond just fixing problems, rather, they must anticipate what might happen and search continuously for creative solutions. Our society further recognizes a growing need for informed, skilled, and compassionate citizens who value truth, openness, creativity, interdependence, balance, and love as well as the search for personal and spiritual freedom in all areas of one’s life.

Montessori education provides the foundation for creating outstanding citizens of the 21st century. Montessori students learn to think for themselves as they move from concrete materials to abstract concepts. They do this with relative ease since the Montessori materials act as a catalyst to abstract thought. Students are able to construct their own meaning without relying on adults to tell them what they need to know. Montessori teachers encourage student learning by posing relevant, challenging, and thought-provoking questions, inviting and assuring that students are active participants in assessing their own work, and by maintaining a well-prepared, non-judgmental environment.

The Montessori environment also encourages students to learn to think together. By learning to think and work together, students learn that collaboration leads to ideas that surpass individual efforts. They also learn different ways to approach problems as well as learning to value different perspectives. They develop creative problem-solving techniques because the environment is safe and children feel free to take risks and experiment with ideas.

Peace Education – Keepers of the Earth
Hearing stories of the human spirit and condition, learning to identify strong character virtues, developing self-direction and motivation, learning to work collaboratively and creatively to solve larger problems builds a thought-filled Montessori classroom. Students learn at an early age to care for and learn from one another. They learn throughout their Montessori education that the fundamental (or common) needs of man are the same in all nations, for all people. They are concerned with, what is it that makes us humans? What do we value? What is beautiful? What is good and just?

  • They are eager to share resources and problem-solve in order to create a higher good.
  • They search for peaceful ways to bring an end to conflict, and disdain violence, bullying, and terrorism.
  • They value diversity of language, culture, race, religion, politics, and economics in order to bring harmony and stability.
  • They are concerned with the effects humans have on the earth and the environment and are thoughtful preservationists.

If we want a future that is more thoughtful, more compassionate, and more peaceful, then we ought to listen to Dr. Montessori. We ought to be doing our best to equip our children with the tools that are necessary to prepare them for the future. Education is not about how much information we can feed to children. It’s about educating the whole child, preparing them for adulthood, teaching them to think, feel, and communicate with others. It’s about educating the peace keepers, the Keepers of the Earth, in order to protect and preserve our planet for future generations.

Read more from our series entitled: Why Montessori?
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 Monday, July 30, 2007.


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