Montessori Philosophy: Nature - Nurturer to the Whole Child
Dr. Maria Montessori founded a theory of education that has had a profound influence on the lives of thousands of children throughout the world since the beginning of the 20th Century. She wrote that education should "… help the individual from birth and protect his environment". From this crucial idea the whole of Montessori's theory, her recommendation for educational practice including the organisation of the environment, the curriculum and the important role of the educator, have developed and entered into the mainstream of educational thought and practice. Montessori was born in Italy in 1870, she was the first woman in Italy to become a physician, although she is best known for her work as an educator.
At its core, the Montessori philosophy is based on respect. Respect for the planet, for ourselves and each other. Many Montessori schools allow a large amount of outdoors time to stimulate curiosity and creativity and to teach about the environment in which we live.
"I would therefore initiate teachers into the observation of the most simple forms of living things, which all those aids which science gives; I would make them microscopists; I would give them a knowledge of the cultivation of plants and train them to observe their physiology; I would direct their observation to insects, and would make them study the general laws of biology. And I would not have them concerned with theory alone, but would encourage them to work independently in laboratories and in the bosom of free Nature."
- from The Advanced Montessori Method
My youngest son attends a Montessori daycare. I have been fascinated with this philosophy for some years. A few years ago, they began a greening project, which includes a garden. They took away the play structures, the asphalt, all that was unnatural and began the greening process, planting trees, shrubs, perennials and leaving natural areas too, for the children to play in. My son tells me daily of the exciting games he and his friends play ," in the woods" , where there are logs to climb on and explore and dirt to dig in. Imagination rules supreme! Children help plant vegetables in the Spring and undertake watering the garden in the summer.
The garden is beautiful, a work in progress, I am told, probably as all gardens should be.I am so impressed with the impact playing there has on my son.