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Montessori :Child-centered versus Teacher-centered education. By Rebecca M Gordon. Montessori . Montessori was born in 1870 in the province of Ancona in Italy. She graduated medical school in 1896 and thus became the first woman physician in Italy at the age of 26.

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montessori
Montessori
  • Montessori was born in 1870 in the province of Ancona in Italy.
  • She graduated medical school in 1896 and thus became the first woman physician in Italy at the age of 26.
  • She had one son named Mario.
  • She founded her first Casa dei Bambini in Rome in 1907.
  • She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times—in 1949, 1950, and 1951.
  • She founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to continue her work.
  • She died in 1952.
her educational philosophy
Her Educational Philosophy:
  • Children develop according to inner genetic promptings.
  • She held that there are sensitive periods in a child’s development when they are genetically programmed to master certain tasks.
  • Because of this, she felt that education should be child-centered. In other words, she felt that children should be allowed to select the tasks which most interested them at the time rather than being forced to follow a specific curriculum.
  • In this way, children would be able to be true to their sensitive periods and learn things in a natural progression.
  • However, the environment for these children, the materials that are available to them, must be carefully controlled so that they are appropriate.
  • Child-centered learning focuses on choice. If they are allowed to choose, within a properly structured environment, the children will be able to learn whatever is suitable for their current needs.
  • Also, they will learn independence or the ability to do things and solve problems by themselves rather than blindly relying on others.
  • Montessori also believed that there should be no system of rewards or punishments in schools. If the children are doing what interests them from their own free choice, if they are internally motivated, there is no need for either the carrot or the stick.
  • Thus, child centered learning produces active, motivated individuals who are capable of making their own choices.
  • According to her theory, teachers should be involved in setting up appropriate environments and should be observers.
key terms
Key terms:
  • Choice: Montessori believed that children should be allowed to choose their activities in school, because they would naturally focus on what was most interesting to them and what was most important for them to learn at the time. However, she emphasized that this freedom of choice should be balanced by a highly structured environment. This freedom fosters independence and internal motivation.
  • Spontaneous Activity: Montessori believed that children should be free to engage in spontaneous activity and should not be checked by teachers unless they were engaging in behaviors that were either dangerous to themselves or others, or unacceptable to social norms.
key terms5
Key terms
  • Auto-education: Montessori believed that children should be given materials which are self-correcting so that they learn their own problem-solving skills and are not dependent on authority figures for solutions. She also noted that contact with nature was very auto-educational. This also emphasizes independence and internal motivation.
  • Truth: Montessori believed that children should be told the absolute truth in a simple, brief, and concise way. They should not be tricked into paying attention or taught with complicated and unclear methods or fantasy play.
key terms6
Key terms:
  • Fantasy Play: Montessori believed creativity involved the combination of previously known realities in unique ways. Thus, for her, true creativity came from having a strong foundation in reality. Because of this, she believed that children under six should not be taught by means of fantasy play. Rather, they should be grounded in real experience so that they would have a rich storehouse of reality from which to draw on later.
the problem
The Problem:

The problem to be examined in this research project is whether this child-centered approach actually produces better results than the traditional teacher-centered approach. Specifically, will children learn more information quantitatively with a child centered approach? Will what they learn be understood better? Will they be able to explain the information in their own way rather than just regurgitating memorized facts? Will they become more independent and self motivated? These are the questions this research project is seeking to answer.

hypotheses
Hypotheses:
  • The Montessori method will produce a similar result as to the quantity of information learned.
  • The Montessori method will produce a better qualitative understanding of the topic.
  • My observations of the children will uphold/support Montessori’s views on the role of choice, spontaneous activity, auto-education, truth, and fantasy play in learning.
research study
Research study
  • 2 kids (1 five year old boy, 1 seven year old girl)
    • The children were given 4 half hour ‘lessons’.
      • Two of the lessons were given in a Montessori style and environment where the children were allowed to choose their own tasks within a structured environment which the researcher observed in the manner of a Montessori teacher.
      • Two were given in a more traditional manner where the researcher sat with them at a table and taught them the lesson from a book.
    • The Montessori lessons were on the life cycle of butterflies.
    • The traditional lessons were on the life cycle of frogs.
      • The first day they received one Montessori lesson followed by one traditional lesson. The researcher asked them after each lesson to list the stages of the respective cycles in order.
      • The second day they received one traditional lesson followed by one Montessori lesson. The researcher asked them after each lesson to describe the respective cycles in their own words.
the environment
The Environment:
  • The research was conducted at the researcher’s home. The room used was a small library room. Bookshelves line all of the walls, but the books stored there are all aimed at adults and were not likely in the researcher’s opinion to distract the participants. The researcher placed a folding table with three chairs along one wall. A sofa ran along the wall opposite. The other two stations were placed on square boxes on the floor along the third wall. The room is located upstairs in the house and thus was quiet and undisturbed during the lessons. Since the research participants were the researcher’s niece and nephew who visited the house often, they were also very comfortable in the environment provided.
montessori lessons
Montessori lessons:
  • The stations consisted of:
    • a game from a Montessori materials site which provided information in the form of a puzzle
    • a set of accurate figures of the stages of the cycle for the children to manipulate
    • several picture books which explain the life cycle
    • a station with pictures of the stages and materials for the children to draw/color their own butterfly pictures.
traditional lessons
Traditional lessons:
  • The researcher sat with the children at a table and read aloud a book on frog life cycles to the children.
  • She used the same book to review what they had learned for the second lesson.
  • She also used a picture of the cycle as an illustration to discuss.
  • Finally she had the children complete a worksheet which involved pasting a picture of each stage in the appropriate order on the page and labeling them.
hypotheses revisited
Hypotheses revisited:
  • Hypothesis 1: This hypothesis was upheld for one child but not the other. Jimmy scored worse on the Montessori lesson questions than the Traditional lesson questions, while Barbara scored the same on both.
  • Hypothesis 2: This hypothesis was not upheld with respect to either child. Barbara did equally well across both lesson types, while Jimmy actually did worse on the Montessori lesson question.
hypothesis 3
Hypothesis 3:
  • Choice: The data showed mixed results for choice. The children were engaged and interested in both types of lessons. However, they also chose to comment off topic in both lessons and Jimmy chose to do nothing for part of the second Montessori lesson. Too unilateral a respect for choice could have negative consequences.
  • Spontaneous Activity: The data also showed mixed results with regard to spontaneous activity. However, in the Montessori lessons the children were free to engage in dialogue about related topics without ‘disrupting’ the lesson. When they talked about other things during the traditional lesson it was disruptive and discouraged. Thus, a greater respect for spontaneous activity may lead to more integrated or extensive knowledge.
  • Auto-education: Since the Montessori lessons were constructed specifically to have auto-educative tools while the traditional method was constructed specifically to not have these kinds of materials, they obviously played a bigger role in the Montessori lessons. However, Barbara did ask for my authority on several points during the Montessori lessons rather than relying on her own ability to find information.
  • Truth: My data on truth was also based mostly on the materials I chose to use for the project. They children seemed to respond equally well to the ‘truthful’ materials and more artistic materials. Barbara did make several comments in the Montessori sessions, however, which seemed to show an interest in whether things were real and truthful.
  • Fantasy: Both children’s behavior upholds Montessori’s views. The children naturally engaged in fantasy play, even though the materials provided were not specifically for fantasy play, which upholds her belief that children have a natural tendency toward fantasy play. Also, Barbara’s picture demonstrated the kind of creativity in fantasy play which Montessori wanted to develop in children.
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In conclusion:

  • The data on choice and spontaneous activity is too mixed to draw any firm conclusions, but it does highlight some interesting avenues of further research and application.
  • The data on auto-education depends mostly on how the researcher set up the environment. However, it is interesting that Barbara asked for my authority on some questions. It is possible either to conclude that Montessori schooling does not teach independence and self-motivation or to conclude that Barbara’s traditional schooling background had already affected her ability for independent, self-motivated learning.
  • The data on truth showed no difference between the two kinds of lessons, but it did reflect Barbara’s interest in truth and reality.
  • The data on fantasy seemed to fully support Montessori’s views.
evaluation things to do differently
Evaluation: Things to do differently.
  • More children.
  • Work with a partner.
  • More/different stations: I think there were issues with having enough things in Jimmy’s sensitive period.
  • Have a writing station.
  • Have a better planned Traditional lesson, perhaps even frame it around another theorist in order to pin it down.
nature vs nurture
Nature vs. Nurture

Rousseau Vygotsky Locke Skinner

Nature Nurture

Montessori

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