As parent night approached, I found myself in a conundrum of sorts. I had overheard parents talking to my assistant about what was happening in my classroom and questioning what I was doing. I am, after all, the new teacher. Unfortunately, I am the third new teacher this particular class has had in just two years. The parents are confused. After all, weren’t their children supposed to spend three years with the same teacher? The two teachers last year didn’t work out and they’re having difficulty believing that I will. Some are even upset that I’m allowing the children to have a choice of work in the classroom. They are “old school”, firm in their belief that their children need direction and to be told what to do at all times. How will they ever learn if I don’t give stringent guidelines and specific assignments?
With this knowledge in hand, I prepared myself more closely than I had in previous years. What does a Montessori teacher do? Why do we teach Montessori? To me, it seemed like the ideal time to remind myself and the parents around me about the goals of Montessori education. I pulled out my Montessori books and course manuals. I re-read my own blogs and the writings of others. I emailed colleagues asking if I was right in my interpretation of the goals of a Montessori education. Here’s what I found:
The Goals of Montessori Education are to:
- Assist the child in his/her mental and physical ability to work appropriately in the environment (normalization)
- Allow children to have freedom coupled with responsibility, which then leads to self-respect, security, and creativity, which in turn leads to collaboration and cooperation
- Create in the child the sense of independence, self-discipline, concentration motivation and sensitivity to things around him
- Educate the whole child, with activities and lessons designed to promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation
- Help children acquire a sense of common humanity that binds peoples of all races and cultures together so that they might grow up to contribute to a more peaceful and cooperative world
- Develop a positive attitude towards school and learning
- Develop a healthy sense of self-confidence
- Form extended habits of concentration, initiative, and persistence
- Provide a carefully planned, stimulating environment where children are free to respond to their natural drive to work and learn
- Awaken the child’s sense of imagination
- Encourage the child’s desire for independence and high-self esteem
- Help the child develop the kindness, courtesy, and self-discipline that will allow him/her to become a full member of society
- Help the child learn how to observe, question, and explore ideas independently
- Free the child to pursue knowledge and skills most relevant to him or her at a pace that is most comfortable
- Encourage the child’s inherent love of learning
- Create a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment
The goal of [education in] the Montessori classroom...is first and foremost the development of skills necessary for a productive and fulfilling life. The best of the academic curriculums are...[of little value] if the child does not develop inner discipline, integrity, and respect for others and oneself. (The Montessori Foundation/International Montessori Council: The Montessori Approach to Discipline)
Read more about the goals of Montessori eduation in NAMC’s Montessori Classroom Guides.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Sunday, September 9, 2007.