The Montessori system of education is both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits, and a carefully prepared environment, which guarantees exposure to a wide range of materials, experiences and grace and courtesy, through which a child can develop intellectually, as well as physically and socially.
Montessori education recognizes that the only valid impulse to learning is the self-motivation of the child. The Montessori classroom, is designed to capture the unique ability of children to develop their own capabilities. The adult prepares the environment, provides the activity, functions as the resource person or exemplar, offers the child stimulation and guidance; but it is the child who learns, who is motivated through the work itself to persist in his/her chosen task.
The Montessori environment invites the child to progress at his/her own pace. Montessori introduces the child to the love of learning at an early age with the hope of building the foundation for a lifetime of creative learning. Montessori is not only a contemporary and progressive method of education, but it becomes a way of life.
Independence: Is the child able to choose his or her own work freely, work with it in concentration and repetition and return it to the proper place, prepared for the next child’s use?
Confidence and Competence: Are the child’s self-perceived successes far more numerous than his or her self-perceived failures? Is the child capable of self-correcting work, upon observation, reflection, or discussion?
Autonomy: Can the child accept or reject inclusion in another child’s work or work group with equanimity?
Intrinsic Motivation: Is the child drawn to continue working for the apparent pure pleasure of so doing? Does the child, once having achieved a particular competence, move on to revel in mastery by showing others?
Ability to Handle External Authority: Is the child able to accept the “ground rules” of the group as appropriate in his or her interactions with other children? Is the child, while distant from the Directress, able to function as if the Directress were nearby?
Social Responsibility: Independent and autonomous persons are always a part of a group and must attain independence and autonomy through participation in group activity. The loss of these qualities by one of a group is a loss for all. Do students attain independence and autonomy and, at the same time, develop social responsibility?
Academic Preparation: Academic preparation entails activation and cultivation of inherent powers and processes through which the learner becomes a supplier of meanings or of things-meaningfully-known. Academic skills are essential to learning and knowing, not the aim of learning and knowing. Do students acquire academic skills and apply them in learning to learn?
Citizens of the World: All children are part of both a world political system and a world ecological system. Both systems have their constitutions and all must learn to live by the letter and spirit of their laws. As a naturalist, Montessori knew about the laws of mind and of nature and understood the consequences of disobeying either of them. What are the citizenship outcomes of school experience? Are the children acquiring civic virtue? Are they acquiring dispositions to understand the natural world, to cherish it, and to live harmoniously within it?