Montessori at MVM Thursday 4/28/16

Deepening Our Collective Understanding

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Dear MVM Families,

The focus of this newsletter is Part II of our series on Maria Montessori. We continue to explore who Maria Montessori was; this person who developed and cultivated a method of education that addresses the whole child over a century ago and whose methods and philosophy we continue to study and apply Monocacy Valley Montessori.

To find out more about Maria Montessori, please take some time to read about her life and work in this newsletter. We also provide links to other sources of more information.

We again copy our new families on this newsletter and welcome them to our community. We hope our Open House was an enjoyable and insightful opportunity for you.

It is imperative that parents understand who Maria Montessori was, the Montessori philosophy, Montessori teaching methods and the prepared environment, the importance of independence, and what it means to be part of a charter school.

Enjoy continued learning about Maria Montessori.

If you missed Part I...

And now for Part II...

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Racks & Tubes for Division

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Dr. Montessori's careful observations also led her to develop theories on how children learn best. Her ground-breaking discoveries of a young child's naturally absorbent mind and innate love of purposeful work and learning led her to give students freedom within a carefully prepared environment equipped with what they needed to grow and learn. Most important was her belief in cultivating a respectful attitude toward the child.

As an astute scientist and quick-minded observer, she had soon discovered some important and, for the period, revolutionary principles about children and the process of learning. Among these was the notion that children have an innate drive to learn, and that all on their own they are capable of amassing an incredible amount of information and wisdom about the world around them. This was startling news at the turn of the century as it had been assumed that children could only learn through instruction; that children were "blank slates" and could only from being lectured by an adult.

Montessori further discovered that children's innate power for learning worked best when they were given freedom to explore in a safe, hands-on-learning environment. Given furniture, equipment, and supplies that they could access and work all by themselves, they were motivated to explore, experiment, and reach new understandings. She found self-correcting, or "didactic", puzzles and other equipment to be an essential component of independent learning and the child-friendly environment.

Montessori found that if children were put into groups with other children with a small range in ages (such as 3-6, 6-9, 9-11, etc.), they would not only work together but also help teach each other. Older children would learn teaching and nurturing skills, and younger children would glimpse strategies for learning and playing that they had not considered yet.

Word of her work spread as she gave lectures about her discoveries. Other schools were opened in Italy and she held her first training course for teachers in 1909. That year her first book, The Montessori Method, was published.

By 1911, the Montessori system of education had spread around the world - to the United States, Argentina, England, Switzerland, Mexico, and Korea, to name a few.

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During her trip to the United States in 1915, Dr. Montessori's "glass classroom" allowed attendees at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco to see children at work. And, for 4 months of the fair’s run, 30 young children attended school in a glass-walled Montessori classroom, providing an intimate view of the new educational model that was quickly catching on among American educators and parents During this visit, she also trained teachers and addressed the National Educational Association (NEA).

Read more about a boy's memory of being part of the Glass Classroom:
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Dr. Montessori continued to teach courses throughout Europe and expand her influence over the next 20 years. As political situations changed before and during World War II, she moved from Italy to Spain, then to the Netherlands. While giving a three-month course in India in the summer of 1939, Italy entered the war with Germany as an ally.

Montessori and her son, Mario, were held in India by the English as "alien enemies" until the war was over. Fortunately, she was allowed to continue her work in India, training those who came from around the world to learn her ground-breaking educational system.

In 1946 Dr. Montessori moved back to Amsterdam, which enabled her to help re-establish her schools throughout Europe. She expanded her theories to include adolescents and infants, stressing that children are the future and our hope for peace.

Having lived through two world wars, Montessori continued to lecture and write about the importance of education in promoting peace. With interest and support from Gandhi, Freud, Edison, Graham Bell, among others, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (1949, 1950, 1951). She continued to lecture and give training courses until her death in 1952.

At the last International Montessori Congress in May, 1951, Dr. Montessori closed the session by stating, "The highest honor and the deepest gratitude you can pay me is to turn your attention from me in the direction in which I am pointing - to The Child."

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Montessori Materials

To learn more...

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To watch and hear more...

For a video detailing Montessori's life, struggles, and timeline:

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