Montessori is not simply a method of teaching children to read; it is a philosophy of life! Montessori Method for education is fundamentally based on an educational approach towards a model of human development. By human development we mean the development psychology of a human being, that is, the innate quality of any human to learn through their experiences. Montessori’s education method called for free activity within a “prepared environment”, meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics and to the specific characteristics of children at different ages.
Since the Montessori Method is so unlike other educational methods, it follows that the Montessori teacher is in fact not a teacher at all, Dr. Maria Montessori called her a DIRECTRESS. In her years of observations, Dr. Montessori used the word ‘DIRETTORESSA’ taken from the Italian word ‘DIRETTORE’ which when looking into the meaning of the word is less about telling people what to do but more about steering people in the right direction. According to Dr. Montessori a directress’ role is to be an ardent observer with the goal to intervene the least as the child develops.
The directress creates an environment of calm, order and joy in the classroom and is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner-discipline. With the younger students at each level, the teacher is more active, demonstrating the use of materials and presenting activities based on an assessment of child’s requirements. Knowing how to observe constructively and when and how much, to intervene, is one of the most important talents a directress acquires. A directress has to be very careful in praising a child.
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She should respond to a child’s enthusiastic approach of working at the same time she should praise the child in a way that it gets motivated through her interest rather than seeking her merit or approval. In short a directress should channelize the child’s capabilities in the right direction order to make them a self-understanding, knowledgeable, independent and a developed adult. The role of a directress with respect to teaching the child is an inactive one, the active learning must come from the child and it’s the duty of the directress to bring the child’s activeness in learning and exploring new things.
They are constantly experimenting, modifying the environment to meet their perception of each child’s needs and interests and objectively noting the results. The directress’ work is to ‘guide’ the child, be like a second parent to all the children in her class. In most cases Montessori teachers are the first motherly figure that a child meets outside their homes. That’s why it is compulsory for the teacher to take on, not only the role of a teacher, but a second mother- like position too. She explains the child, in an understanding and calm manner.
She is patient with them when they do something wrong. She allows the child to choose his own activity rather than force him into something in which he had no interest and also motivating them to keep the material back in place, so that the child respects his environment. If the child is afraid, she handles the child in a calm-composed manner to ease the child’s fear. The directress also makes it a point to make all the children comfortable with each other to maintain a positive environment in the class and to build a positive attitude in the child and encourage social interaction.
She handles disputes, without being bias. She offers support when a child lacks confidence. “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed. ” “Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world. ” The directress acts as an active-link between the child and the “prepared environment” in a sense that all the materials and apparatus are kept in their accurate places in the class. The intellectual ability of a child that is revealed during the tender age of the child should be respected in all its aspects. It is like a flower that has just started to bloom.
The Montessori teacher’s work in preparing the classroom together with her interactions among the children enables her to provide the children the most positive means by which they can absorb the environment. The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to exclaim, “The children are now working as if I do not exist”. Montessori uses the term ‘normalization’ to describe this unique process a child experiences in the classroom. A normalized child is “one who has overcome himself and lives in peace and harmony with the environment preferring disciplined tasks to futile idealness. She believed that children are born with innate capacities for self-governance which should develop freely. She also said that the greatest barriers to development of these natural instincts in children are adults. Thus the classroom must provide activities and motives for Normalization to occur. This is due to the fact that Normalization emerges as a result of deep concentration. The materials chosen by the children will emerge the, and lead them to self-discovery and awareness. Ultimately, it is the directress’ role as the ‘dynamic link’ which allows the process of normalization to occur.
One must not forget, however, that it cannot occur immediately. The teacher must also prepare herself for a period of practice which may take many years. The ‘spiritually prepared’ teacher will recognize this critical factor, and through her practice as an observer of children, can further observe the spiritual growth within herself. The role of the directress is therefore, “to watch with humble reverence, day by day, the spontaneous unfolding of the children’s lives; seeking always to remove obstacles, both internal and external from their path, whilst she guides with science and sympathy the irrepressible energies of life”.
The spiritually prepared teacher will do so with a joyous heart. Only then can the most important factor in her role can be established, that is, to see the child for who he really is. The reason a Montessori teacher is called a directress is that she directs her children to a path where they want to go rather than simply teaching them the basic rules of living or transfer knowledge to them.
The children are independent of the directress and explore the world according to their wish. They need the directress only in case they get stuck somewhere or they have problem in understanding anything rather than having a teacher who imparts knowledge to the child just because he have to know that. School teachers have a formal outlook towards their career whereas a directress can survive in this place only if she puts her heart filled with love into her career.
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