The Relation Between Montessori and Children as a Centre of Education and It's Relevance Today
April 22, 2019
For more than one hundred years Montessori has been taking part in shaping our educational world. To be able to keep up with the fast-changing world of education is quite a feat for methods which were particularly developed by a woman who just found her interest in education not as an educator in the first place but after many years devoted her life in medical field. Nevertheless, education is not an easy field, though. Dr. Maria Montessori was fully aware that to finish what she already started she needed to devote her life to the field that she felt as her true calling. Her firm belief to devote her life to education is still being paid off until today that we can witness in her great legacy. However, then some questions might arise; is her legacy still relevant today? Are her methods not obsolete in teaching practice?
Doubt often arises when people observe Montessori classrooms for the first time. They will assume that Montessori is too playful, disorganized, and even peculiar. It is not unusual that they tend to conceive children in Montessori classes are simply given too much freedom. The classes seem run without rules or exact schedule; children can have two or three different subjects at the same time. Is that how we supposed to teach? How can a teacher handle three lessons at the same time? That kind of question usually will be asked by the first-time observer. The idea seems unthinkable. Yet, that is the core value that Montessori classes try to nurture. Montessori believed that education ought to free children from any restriction. Child’s independence is something that Montessori always tried to promote since she began her first observation on children. This purpose can only be gained if we put children as the center of education. That is why you will see children working by themselves in Montessori classrooms. They become teacher for themselves. However, what many people might not understand is that the freedom the Montessori classes provide is freedom with consequences or limit. It is not that we give absolute freedom without responsibilities. It is important to always emphasize that for the freedom that we give to the children; there must be price to be paid. Children must be taught to understand the limit of their freedom. Nonetheless, most people simply overlook the fact that children have different ability and interest to learn and tend to favor the conventional teacher-centered approach by giving them more restriction and expecting total obedience. This approach, however, will only restrain children from developing their ability to the utmost outcome. In Montessori classes children are given active role, they do not simply become the object without being given the rights to be an active participant who will be responsible for their own abilities, interests, learning-styles and also learning-pace. Children are the ones who accommodate themselves to their need based on their ability to learn. It is because Montessori believed that learning was an individual process.
Furthermore, it is difficult to neglect the importance of fostering child’s independence and autonomy in education. Fostering independence and autonomy will construct creative and initiative self-motivated individuals. Independence in our principle is not only a process to encourage children to be able to do something that previously they are unable to do, but also process of making children create a sense of capability or being capable for themselves. Only if have they gained this sense of independence, that will lead them to the quest of freedom, they will be life-long learners. Most educators will agree that fostering a sense of capability in early age is crucial. Thus, by giving the children their role to be an active participant in the process of education by understanding their abilities, interests, learning-styles and also learning-pace will encourage them to be adaptable individuals. It teaches them to be self-driven individuals. Montessori believed that children could only become self-driven individuals if they are given opportunities to develop their abilities without interference. What the facilitator tries to provide is ismply a good environment for children to develop their natural inclination to learn. You can simply observe toddlers to understand their natural abilities to learn; they will run here and there and try to touch anything within their reach. If you simply restrain them, they will keep trying to loose themselves and go back to their activities. Montessori classes are the resemblance of a democratic enviroment. Children have voice and they do not simply follow instructions obediently without questioning. This approach allows the process of learning that will flourish the autonomy and discovery-learning. Montessori classes nurture the culture of creative and problem-solving skills that will equip children with considerable competence in future. Great thinkers like Dewey, Freire and Montessori believed that education ought to nurture democratic environment where children were given voice not only to answer questions, but also to debate, discuss, and elaborate what they have learned. This is the principle that Montessori education still upholds until today. No wonder the one century legacy still lasts.