With the theme: “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession,” we recognize the critical importance of reaffirming the value of the teaching mission. We call upon governments to make teaching a profession of first choice for young people. We also invite teacher unions, private sector employers, school principals, parent-teacher associations, school management committees, education officials and teacher trainers to share their wisdom and experiences in promoting the emergence of a vibrant teaching force. Above all, we celebrate the work of dedicated teachers around the world who continue to strive every day to ensure that “inclusive and equitable quality education” and the promotion of “lifelong learning opportunities for all” become a reality in every corner of the globe.
Since 1994, the ILO/UNESCO (International Labour Organization/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) have celebrated World Teachers’ Day on October 5. This year celebrates the future of education by recognizing new teachers entering the profession.
We at NAMC work with many such new teachers. Some are entering the classroom for the first time, while others are experienced teachers who are new to Montessori. Whatever your experience, let’s imagine if Dr. Montessori were to give the World Teachers’ Day address to the ILO/UNESCO conference. What would she say to new teachers?
Education for a New World, p. 67.
Dr. Montessori believed that in order to help guide children, the teacher must transform into something beyond what she has already experienced from all previous teachers and educational experiences. This new teacher must begin anew, believing that the child will be the teacher of teachers.
The Secret of Childhood, p. 106.
This new teacher becomes part of the whole classroom. This is not the teacher’s classroom; it belongs to the children. The teacher, like the rest of the environment, must not stand out and call attention to himself or be the center of attention. He must blend into the background and quietly and humbly guide children to their next level of concentration. If he does not, he becomes a hinderance and not a help.
The Child, Society and the World: Unpublished Speeches and Writings, p. 16.
Contrary to popular belief, the teacher’s job is not to fill the child with knowledge. It is to help the children learn to concentrate so that they can teach themselves. The Montessori materials were created to be auto-didactic, or self-teaching. Once shown how to use them, the child is free to repeat the activity over and over, experimenting along the way with new extensions of the same work. With this repetition comes mastery. It is then that the teacher introduces the next level or activity in the sequence. If she intervenes too soon, concentration and interest are lost. Only through attentive observation will the teacher know the difference between hindering and helping. She must learn amazing self-control and patience, trusting that the child will self-correct and learn virtually without her. She is the guide, not the conductor.
The Absorbent Mind, p. 259.
In this last quote, Montessori is addressing that need for “inclusive and equitable quality education” mentioned by the ILO/UNESCO. This child before her is any child. He could come from the humblest of villages or the wealthiest of mansions. He could become president or sweep the streets. None of this matters because in the eyes of the Montessori teacher, all children are equal. They all have the same developmental, emotional, and social needs. They all have the intrinsic capability to learn. They all have the same potential. The most important part of teaching children is understanding that under her guidance, the Montessori teacher helps lay the foundation of the children’s spirit. She observes their journey and is their helpmate along the way.
Montessori, Maria. The Secret of Childhood. New York: Ballantine Books, 1972.
Montessori, Maria. Education for a New World. Clio Press Ltd., 1989.
Montessori, Maria. The Child, Society, and the World: Unpublished Speeches and Writings. Clio Press Ltd., 1989.
UNESCO. World Teachers' Day. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldteachersday
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, October 3, 2019.