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Ece 101 - My Philosophy United with Maria Montessori

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My Philosophy united with Maria Montessori

Alyssa Whiting

ECE101 Introduction to Early Childhood Education

Patricia Hunter

February 14, 2011

In my studies to become an early childhood professional, the name Maria Montessori is a legendary icon. She was a world figure in education and an advocate for peace. Maria was a woman that dedicated her life to the advancement of all children. She believed that learning was a total life experience for all children, and that children of every land and culture developed in fundamentally the same way (O'Connor. Foreword, pg.6). Maria's concepts, beliefs, and theories of education have had a very influential impact on my personal thoughts. I believe that Maria's discoveries are valuable to anyone living or working with children in any situation.

The same year that Italy became a unified, free nation, one of the world's greatest educators was born. Maria was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. At the age of thirteen, she began her college years at an all-boys technical school. After a couple of years focusing on mathematics, she decided she wanted to become an engineer. But by the time she graduated in the summer of 1890, she had changed her mind again. She decided she wanted to become a doctor. At this time in history, women were not permitted into medical school. Maria was self-confident, optimistic and greatly interested in change and after much perseverance and determination, Maria was the first female in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education, and anthropology. She made her way to the United States in 1913 after being invited by Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and others. For the lifetime of commitment to the education of children, Maria was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize in 1949, 1950, and 1951 (O'Connor. Ch. 5, pg.60). Maria developed an educational theory with methods that she had found in medicine, education, and anthropology. She was the Italian educator who developed the Montessori Method, which focuses on development of the intellect through the exploration of materials (Eliason. Ch. 1, pg.3).

The Montessori Method is an innovative teaching methodology for children that left a permanent mark on education curricula throughout the world. Montessori education is a sensory-based pedagogy that is based on the belief that children learn at their own pace through manipulation of object (Kallio. The Montessori Method 2008. Research Starters Education http://www.lander.edu/library/files/The_Montessori_Method.pdfs). Maybe one of the most significant and worthwhile uses of this method is the system for teaching learning disabled students. This program is designed to help at-risk children using the same principles taught in the K - 12 programs: independent growth, individual learning, sensory learning, and self-discovery. The Montessori curriculum follows a chronological order based on Montessori's five great lessons: the timeline of life, the story of language, the story of the universe, the story of numbers, and the timeline of civilization. Although some of her methods were criticized for being too disconnected, rigorous, and even harsh for the children, they did seem to facilitate a more genuine, natural experience. Maria could be heard saying, "I studied my children, and they taught me how to teach them." She was the first to view education in this manner. Maria established other attributes for what seem to be modern education today.

What is the role of teachers? A traditional view of a teacher is someone who dispenses knowledge: someone who lectures, tells, feeds, disseminates and covers material. Teaching was a combination of information-dispensing, custodial child care and sorting out academically inclined students from others. Montessori believed that "it is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may be always ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience (Morrison. Ch.6, pg. 138). To implement a child-centered approach, the Montessori Method makes children the center of learning and encourages them to learn. Montessori teachers prepare the learning environment, respect each child, and introduce new learning materials.

The Montessori Method is a system of early childhood education founded on the ideas and practices of Maria Montessori (Morrison. Ch.8, pg.140). It is designed to provide a well-prepared environment and support the natural development of children. It is made up of five basic principles. They include: respect the child, absorbent mind, auto-education, prepared environment, and sensitive periods. Respect for the child is the cornerstone on which all other Montessori principles rest (Morrison. Ch.8, pg.142). Respect conveys and fosters positive self-esteem. The absorbent mind is the idea that the minds of young children are receptive to and capable of learning. The child learns unconsciously by taking in information from the environment (Morrison. Ch.6, pg.142). Whether or not they chose to learn they do simply by living. Auto-education is the name that Maria gave her concept that children are capable of educating themselves. Children who are actively involved in a prepared environment and who exercise freedom of choice literally educate themselves (Morrison. Ch. 6, pg.143). A prepared environment is a space assembled and prearranged to support learning in general and/or specific knowledge and skills. It's a place where children can do things for themselves because freedom is the essential characteristic. The sensitive period is a relatively brief time during which learning is most likely to occur, also known as a critical period. It refers to a unique sensibility which an individual

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