Trends in Montessori Primary Pedagogy
Dr. Maria Montessori was a trained doctor who specialized in pediatrics and psychiatry. As part of her practice, she worked for children with complex needs. During this time, she observed how children in the psychiatric wards tried hard to learn from the environment. She provided them tools with available materials and observed a change in their demeanor. She always wondered during those days what is holding back the Italian children who did not have complex needs and was very intrigued by this question. In 1906 she got an opportunity to work with the children from the slums of San Lorenzo on the outskirts of Rome and here she practiced the Montessori Pedagogy. That was more than 100 years ago and today Montessori philosophy is well established and highly regarded teaching method with thousands of schools and most of them catering for primary age group of children. In the past hundred years the world has changed a lot and the material in the Montessori classroom has been updated in many ways. Unlike the traditional approach to schooling, Montessori classrooms are centered around the child. Teachers provide a prepared environment enabling children to learn at their own pace. Montessori education emphasizes self-discipline, logical thinking, order, and leadership skills in children.
Principles of Montessori approach is:
- Concrete materials in a Montessori classroom enable children to learn with their senses.
- Each child has his/her own individual lesson plan. The teacher will prepare the lesson plan according to the needs of each unique child.
- Problem solving and logical thinking skills are built into Montessori materials.
- In a Montessori classroom children learn concepts not through mere memorization, but through engaging and immersive hands-on activities.
Trends in Primary Classrooms:
1. STEM Integration:
STEM integration is one of the main trends in primary Montessori classrooms. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Principles of STEM are:
- Creativity and innovation are the vital skills students learn in a STEM based educational model.
- Hands on learning is emphasized in a STEM classroom.
- Strives to build crucial skills like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.
- Teaches children ask questions, innovate, and create new ideas from what they learn.
The concepts of STEM education like creativity, problem solving skills, innovation, teamwork, and leadership is close to the principles of Montessori method.
2. Public Montessori Primary Classrooms:
Montessori schools are usually accessible to progressive suburban families who can afford private schools. Though Dr. Montessori developed the pedagogy in a poor neighborhood in Rome it has now mostly associated with affluent private schools ever since the first Montessori school was started in United States about 100 years ago. Over the last few years there has been a rapid growth in public Montessori schools. Leaders of public carter schools and districts are working on creating public schools to be accessible to economically and racially integrated schools. As the demand for Montessori schools increases there is more need for additional high quality Montessori schools to be accessible. The public-school options available have helped to close the opportunity gap by helping low-income families with availability of Montessori education.
3. Equitable Montessori Classrooms:
Equity in a classroom provides equal learning opportunities for students of all needs and economic backgrounds. Montessori schools have mostly been associated with affluent families. There has been research to show how Montessori schools work towards bridging the gap in learning among low-income students. There has been a new trend in Montessori primary classrooms to be geared towards making them equitable. Bezos academy has recently started a project to open Montessori inspired early childhood classrooms for low-income families in underprivileged neighborhoods.
4. Integration of Technology
There has been a trend in primary Montessori classrooms to integrate technology. Traditional Montessorians have long resisted the inclusion of technology in the classroom. There is a growing trend to include age-appropriate technology in the classroom. Montessori education emphasizes that children understand the world around them by exploring and manipulating the environment. Dr. Maria Montessori said, “a child’s hands and developing brain are intimately connected.” Children touch and feel everything around them because that is how they learn. When we incorporate technology into the classroom, we will be using appropriate material that promotes tactile learning where children are using their hands to move the objects around. We will be observing children using technology and making notes to see how it impacts their learning. We plan to introduce Bee bots and apps to enhance our students’ learning experience at school. We have research to prove that the use of technology as a supplemental tool does provide an enhanced learning experience to children, and they also have a lot of fun in the process. Digital technology is one of the greatest innovations of mankind and we should use it the right way to benefit our students rather than avoiding it.
Equity in the montessori classroom. (n.d.). ETC Montessori Online. https://etcmontessorionline.com/blog/equity-in-the-montessori-classroom/
Marshall, C. (2017). Montessori education: a review of the evidence base. Npj Science of Learning, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-017-0012-7
Fleming, N. (2019, April 25). A public school makes the case for ‘Montessori for all.’ Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/public-school-makes-case-montessori-all/
Aca. (2020, September 20). The Montessori Pedagogy. Austin Childrens Academy. https://austinchildrensacademy.org/aca-blog/the-montessori-pedagogy/