http://www.montessorisociety.org.uk asking How important are Montessori Materials?
It made me ask myself “Is Montessori being dumbed down?”
The article is very good, and points to many issues I have had over the years teaching and mentoring teachers about the need to remain “Traditional” in Montessori teaching and in the prepared Montessori environment. I believe that Montessori materials offer SUCH a wealth of knowledge to be explored by the child and, quite frankly, the teacher that there is very little need to supplement them in a classroom with other materials.
Montessori materials and all their extensions should be second nature to a teacher and should flow, integrate and overlap across the curriculum. Practical Life ..should be just that, giving a child an opportunity to practice life, so therefore no need to grate soap..how about nutmeg or a carrot?
I often wonder that, if a Montessori School has non Montessori activities, whether it is for a parents benefit? As this is what a parent, who is not familiar with Montessori materials, would feel comfortable with and is what a child may have at home, so perhaps a child would naturally gravitate toward them offered at School, perhaps making transition easier. Notwithstanding the need for a parent to have some sort of proof that their child is learning. (parent education needed here) or perhaps the teacher does not fully understand or is not convinced by the Montessori materials.
It is a teacher’s job to prepare the Montessori environment carefully and to demonstrate the materials to the students appropriately.
I think it is important to have a complete “set” of materials in each and every classroom so catering to the needs of each and every child, and not limit the materials to an age..surely that is removing a child’s “freedom of choice”? To have a classroom
that flows developmentally say from 2-6 years offers so much.
Mixing in other materials and activities detracts from the very unique Montessori approach to a child’s welfare and development. I believe they also could send confusing messages..for example puzzles with dinosaurs and humans, cartoon bunnies, grating soap, etc.
I also strongly believe in the correct use of the materials,( that we know have been carefully and scientifically developed through observing children from concrete to abstract), demonstrations by the teacher and use by the child so that the very important optimum development is achieved.
Having said all that, there are very carefully developed materials that complement the Montessori curriculum, one that comes to mind is the “Bird’s eye view” mat for the lay out of the golden beads.
If a Montessori teacher is going to introduce materials that are not “Traditionally” Montessori, careful consideration is necessary in that they enhance and are true to the Montessori science and research in the development of the materials, and that they do not contradict or conflict with the fundamental message.
I am a thrilled to be a “traditional” Montessori Teacher because I have witnessed over and over again the amazing growth in students in a “traditional” Montessori classroom.
How important are Montessori Materials to you?