The trend these days is to call work that the child enjoys as Play Based Learning. This is because the adult cannot accept the fact that when the child is smiling and happy, s/he is really working hard to bring out the inbuilt potential.
The Montessori Method is an internationally recognised scientific method. The children use all their faculties, the power of observation and intelligence while working with this material. They find such joy in it that they are always in a happy frame of mind. And adults always associate Happiness with Play which is not true in this case, and hence the misconception.
A short history – the Montessori Method was established in the year 1907. After many years of research and experimentation with various materials and working with children of diverse backgrounds, this method came into being. Dr. Maria Montessori, the Founder of this form of education was an expert in various fields besides being a Doctor of Medicine. She gave up everything in order to work with children. For her, the child was the centre of focus.
It is a well-known fact that children absorb things best when they are offered to his/her hands and eyes. So, to help the child become aware of dimensions, shapes, colours, solids – the material offered to him/her brings out that particular sensorial aspect. In order to bring out differences in length, only the lengths keep on changing while the height and width remain the same. Similarly, for all other sensorial perceptions. We may also call this the sensorial material, as all the senses come into play – Visual, Acoustic (different sounds), Olfactory (different smells), Gustatory (different tastes), Tactile (different textures) and stereognostic . So, while we think the child is playing, he/she has absorbed so much from the material and now using these as keys, the child can explore his/her environment on a higher level.
Most of the material offered to the child has a built-in Control of Error. The adult need not stand over him/her to keep on correcting the child or point out mistakes. This helps in building up the child’s confidence. The child keeps on working at his/her own pace and rhythm. I would like to mention here that the child has the freedom to work with any material for as long as he/she wants. But Freedom and Discipline go hand in hand. The child can choose a material provided it has been presented to him/her and provided the material is at its place. And after working with it the child has to put it back in the proper place. The motto of ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ is adhered to here.
Language and Arithmetic are also offered to the child’s hands and eyes. The child makes great strides in these fields too using the ‘Play Based Method’ as most might call it. A child of 4 years when offered the Decimal System of Numeration understands the concept with clarity and can tell an adult that 10 tens make a 100 and 10 hundreds make 1000. The child is very clear and confident of this concept.
The child also develops a positive Social Behaviour and becomes a responsible and aware citizen. Great personalities of India like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore took a keen interest in the Montessori Method. Dr. Montessori believed that ‘in order to reach World Peace we need a new Human Being – a better Human Being’. She also stated that ‘an education capable of constructing Peace cannot be limited- it is a Work of Universal Magnitude’.
So, let’s all join hands to bring to the child love and desire for his work without the child feeling burdened and claustrophobic. Let the child’s world be filled with enthusiasm and a healthy approach to life.
Let us all recite the Montessori Prayer:
Help us O Lord to penetrate into the Secrets of the Child
So that we may know him, love him and serve him
According to thy Laws of Justice and according to thy Divine Will
About the author:
Rita Bose is Principal - Disharee Montessori House and President-Montessori Association (Kolkata)
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