By Anshul Tewari:
While we stand right in front, cribbing about and blaming the education system, we fail to come up with constructive solutions to solve this problem. Pointing fingers at the education system and policies won’t help, need now is to learn from various education systems around the world and inculcate the best practices in ours.
Educators from around the world have emphasised on how Montessori education could solve most of our education related problems. I remember meeting Lavanya, a Global Changemaker at the British Council and an advocate of the Montessori system of education, something that she is using to educate many slum kids in Delhi. In her own words, “It’s been a life-transforming experience not just for the kids but for me as well.”
According to Wikipedia, “Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society.”
Can this system be the answer to our education-system problems? Yes! Here are 10 reasons why.
1. It gives the child the independence:
Montessori form of education, makes children independent by letting them do things for themselves. It allows the children to choose what they want to and contribute towards each other by helping them in whatever way they want.
While the current education system makes us heavily dependent on our teachers, the smart children of the class and books, the Montessori system is based on the theory that when the children are able to do things for themselves there is an increase in their self belief and even self confidence and esteem that they may carry on throughout their life.
Not every child is same. This system gives the students the independence to learn and grow at their respective paces – much unlike our current system that often goes against the pace or the learning capacity of a student.
2. No comparison between children:
Teacher to Raghu: Why can’t you score like Ankita does?
Mother to Raghu: Chintu scores 99.999. If he can, why can’t you?
Father to Raghu: So you want the Play station. Hmmm… score more than your cousins and I’ll get it for you.
Haven’t you gone through this situation? Your kids won’t have to go through this if they go to a Montessori school. The basic theory of Montessori is against comparison between children. It rather promotes co-existence and co-learning. The students are self-inspired and study to co-exist, not compete.
3. Education based on observation:
The basic idea behind Montessori format is learning via observing – especially children at a pre-school stage. The founder of this methodology, Dr. Maria Montessori observed children without preconceived ideas that helped her develop materials that the children needed and were interested in. It is also the way adults can learn about what the child needs. If the child starts banging on objects they are given a drum. If they are pushing things around the room, they need to walk but can’t do it themselves yet, help them or give them the opportunity to push and give them, for example, a wagon to push. This is how observation can help create harmony, fulfilling the child’s current needs. (source)
4. Learning by multi-age grouping:
Based on age groups, children are mixed into ages and abilities in three to six year spans: 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-15, 15-18. As the International Montessori Index puts it, there is constant interaction, problem solving, child to child teaching, and socialization. Children are challenged according to their ability and never bored. The Montessori middle and high school teacher ideally has taken all three training courses plus graduate work in an academic area or areas. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
5. Teaching method- “Teach by teaching, not by correcting”:
I remember having my class notebooks filled with red marks by the teacher, bad notes to my parents about my poor performance, and depressing comments. I also remember being humiliated for scoring a 5/20 in one of my social studies papers.
This is not the case in the Montessori method. The teacher does not criticize or humiliate students. He/she respects the student as he/she is. There are no papers turned back with red marks and corrections. The teachers, through extensive observation and record keeping, take time out to design special projects based on the special needs of the students to help them improve in different aspects.
6. No grades, no punishment:
As Lavanya puts it, “I learnt small things about teaching which we otherwise take for granted — like when a child makes a mistake, you never tell a child that he is wrong. You simply have to sit right next to the kid and start doing the right thing. And he will learn the right thing in due course of time and start following you. “
Children are bound to make mistakes. You can either scold them and instill fear in them, or teach by example. For example, if a child drops something, instead of scolding, set an example, “Oh you dropped the food, why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up.” It is an opportunity to ask the child to do some valid practical work with you. You will find children do like to clean up as they see it as something adults do – thus they learn quickly.
7. Character education and morals:
Remember that odd free class we used to have, called ‘moral science’? It used to tell us tales of morality and we all cherished it as a free period. Even the teacher never took it seriously. It did not carry any marks. Whatever that small class was – it has now vanished from the course curriculum.
In Montessori method, education of character is considered as important as academic education, children learn to take care of themselves, their environment, each other – cooking, cleaning, building, gardening, moving gracefully, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful, doing social work in the community, etc.
This forms the basis of a person’s nature and characteristics, and something that our current education system misses completely. We are made to cramp up everything, but are not taught the basic etiquette and humility. Montessori is the answer.
8. It compels the children to “think” without making it boring:
As Lavanya puts it, “Learning is no longer boring, it becomes interesting because lessons are made to come alive in class through art, dance, drama, and other interesting tools. The class becomes a space for the child where he can be comfortable, be at peace with his surroundings and hence, develop his personality in the proc’ess. The tools and the methods of teaching really get one to ‘think’ about the concept that is being taught rather than focusing on rote learning and cramming. And because the first few years in the life of the child become so crucial in shaping what he/she will be like in the coming few years, I think it becomes even more crucial that the child learns to think through things. “
9. Requirement based education:
Requirements for age 0-6
There are no academic requirements for this age, but children are exposed to amazing amounts of knowledge and often learn to read, write and calculate beyond what is usually thought interesting to a child of this age.
Requirements for ages 6-18
The teacher remains alert to the interests of each child and facilitates individual research in following interests. There are no curriculum requirements except those set by the state, or college entrance requirements, for specific grade levels. These take a minimum amount of time. From age six on, students design contracts with the teacher to guide their required work, to balance their general work, and to teach them to become responsible for their own time management and education. The work of the 6+ class includes subjects usually not introduced until high school or college.
10. Freedom to study the way the child wants:
The environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks. There is no limit to how long a child can work with a piece of material. At any one time in a day all subjects — math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc., will be being studied, at all levels.
All subjects are interwoven, not taught in isolation, the teacher modeling a “Renaissance” person of broad interests for the children. A child can work on any material he understands at any time.
These are just 10 reasons, you can know more about Montessori method of education here. Do you think this is a better system than the existing education system? Do comment below.