Montessori’s methodology is based on the principles of free choice and independence, and these ideas are very close to modern parents. Despite this, all kinds of rumors persistently circulate around the mega-popular doctrine and its founder.
Myth number 1:
Maria Montessori gave her own son to the orphanage
Skeptical personalities often baffle fans of the Montessori technique, stating that its founder gave her offspring to an orphanage. If this is true, the question creeps in: what good could such an insensitive and cynical mother think of for her kids, who loved all children except her own? All this is just insulting rumors. Offensive because slander is spread on the Internet only because the main sources of information are on Italian sites, and Google translator is not the best assistant in cross-language communication.
In fact, Maria Montessori was very fond of her only son, Mario, and did not want to part with him. The father of her child refused to marry her and put her before a choice: either he will give the boy his name and take it to him, or his son will be given to the orphanage. Maria Montessori chose the first option. Up to 15 years old, the child was raised by relatives of her ex-civil husband, while the boy’s father never visited him during this time.
Montessori saw her son on the weekend, but he did not realize that she was his mother, and called her “Aunt Marie.” Fortunately, this story ended well: when Mario turned 15, he began to live with his mother, and later continued the work of her whole life and led the Montessori movement. Mother and son traveled a lot around the world, worked together and lived in perfect harmony – isn’t that what all normal parents dream of? So she illustrated the fruits of her scientific “experiments” with a personal example.
The Montessori method is based on freedom of choice: each time the child decides what he will do today. The main way to learn is to try everything in practice.
Myth number 2:
Montessori came up with her own methods of education and development for children with disabilities, so these principles are not suitable for healthy babies.
Maria Montessori dealt with children with intellectual disabilities until 1901, and the rest of the time, until her death in 1952, she worked with healthy babies. But this is not a matter of chronological calculations. Once, a group of retarded children under the care of Maria Montessori took exams at a Roman gymnasium in the presence of the Italian Minister of Education.
When they showed brilliant results, the official was delighted and asked in surprise: “What are you doing so that idiots are smarter than ordinary children?” To which Montessori immediately objected: “You should think about the fact that you are doing this with normal children, that they do not reach the level of idiots.” In fact, in the 21st century, many years after this incident, we also have something to think about.
For example, did you know that the classroom system, which is used in ordinary schools, was invented 400 years ago and was designed for monks, that is, for adults? But if an adult can sit motionless at a desk for several hours in a row, then for a child this is a real test. It takes a lot of energy for children to suppress their natural need to constantly move, which is why the assimilation of information is much worse.
And this is insulting, because the speed of processing new knowledge in a child is 60 times higher than in an adult. It turns out that, sitting children at their desks, with our own hands we destroy their full potential. And this is just one example out of many that shows that the official education system does not create the environment that is necessary for the assimilation of knowledge in a calm atmosphere and with burning eyes. Montessori schools know about this, so children, among other things
Myth number 3:
Montessori material looks so intricate and strange that the child will only get confused. Moreover, such objects do not exist in life, and this world is too artificial.
Many objects that were in the field of vision of the child during classes at the Montessori centers were invented by the founder of the doctrine herself. And this “artificial environment” is built on purely scientific principles. When creating the didactic material, Maria Montessori took into account the peculiarities of the development of children at different stages and the algorithm that our brain follows every time it is necessary to solve any problem. It is important to help the child develop three essential skills: the ability to control his movements, the ability to analyze sensory stimuli and think abstractly.
For this, exercises that help children compare objects, look for a pair, notice matches and differences, and find a given combination of signs are very useful. The more visual the “training” material is, the better and easier the training will go. And the more the child “works” with his hands, the more active is fine motor skills and memory. All these points were taken into account by Maria Montessori when she developed the “pink tower”, “binomial cube”, “geometric chest of drawers” and everything else. The design of most work items is such that the task can be gradually complicated. When the child goes to the next level, the child always decides for himself, therefore this environment is also called “autodidactic” – it gives the child the opportunity to learn for himself.
“Training subjects” are designed so that, following a simple algorithm, the child is always guaranteed a successful result at the initial stage. This nuance plays a very important role, because it does not allow the appearance of fear of error.
Myth number 4 :
The Montessori method limits the creative abilities of the child, because the teacher forces the child to work with didactic material according to strict rules.
A teacher in the Montessori environment never forces children to complete tasks; his task is to demonstrate the basic principles of working with didactic material and literally step aside. Then the child explores the possibilities of learning subjects on their own. And such an approach to teaching creative abilities, on the contrary, only develops. Every day, the child chooses an activity to his liking, intuitively and according to his mood. Nobody presses on him, therefore, he feels confident.
No one controls him, so he always deals with the chosen business with sincere interest. But creativity is based precisely on self-confidence and the desire to create something new. However, there are still limitations when working with didactic material. The rules are simple. First: each item has its own purpose, therefore, the teacher will not allow the child to hammer in a cube of nails – for these purposes there is a hammer. We do not give the child to eat soup with a shoehorn, and this does not surprise us. Rule two: respect others: your actions should not interfere with them. And the third: we must not destroy the world in which we live.
Myth number 5:
In groups of different ages, young children are not able to develop leadership skills.
According to Montessori educators, this is the saddest error and the most implausible myth. Indeed, in Montessori Gardens the groups are of different ages, but the rules of behavior are the same for all the kids. This is the first condition necessary to eliminate unhealthy competition. In addition, every child, regardless of age, periodically has the opportunity to become a “circle guard” when he performs the function of “leader”, and all other children obey him and fulfill his requests.
Such a role exchange system clearly demonstrates to children that healthy leadership is built on respect for others. So they quickly learn to concede, negotiate, seek compromises, learn from others’ experiences. And in the modern world, all these skills are very necessary.
Myth number 6 :
In Montessori Gardens, children do not play ordinary games, they always work with didactic material. As a result, their imagination and communication skills are poorly developed.
In Montessori gardens, the schedule is the same as in regular gardens. Children have time for regular games, daytime sleep and walks, but 2-3 hours a day they really do developmental activities. For these “exercises” there is a special name: “free work.” Thus, children learn the idea that the game is an opportunity to live some time for fun, and you can always work only for real. And the result will be tangible: either you can do the job well or not.
Thus, children from an early age are accustomed to work and self-discipline and learn to achieve their goals. And they learn a universal algorithm that is necessary to complete absolutely any task. It consists of 5 steps: first you need to decide what you will do, then prepare everything you need to work, then actually work hard, then check what happened well and what didn’t work out, and finally clean up after yourself. It is clear that all these skills will be very useful for a child both in school and in adult life.