Learning through doing.
The Montessori method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, a remarkable woman to research for this blog. Born on the 31st August 1870 in Italy, she was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and her philosophy of education is Internationally acclaimed, prominent today and relevant for this blog within ESL teaching.
During my early childhood I was fortunate to attend a Montessori preschool in the UK. I believe that later on in life this method of education has contributed in enabling me to become a creative free independent adult and I find it fitting that I can utilise my skills and experiences as a Native English language teacher abroad.
- Montessori classrooms are based on self-directed activities in an environment created to support a child to move at their own pace of learning by pursuing a passion. Believing that every single child is different, therefore, encouraging human development through movement and cognition.
- Children are free within limits to go and choose their own material – respect for others, respect for yourself, respect for the environment.
- To encourage independence, if a child can do something themselves then the teacher should never do it for them, for example each child would be assigned a role in the classroom which changes each day/ week such as teachers assistant, arranging the table for lunch, etc.
- A classroom should provide the right setting and be in a good order to help mental development. This can be achieved by using light colours and children’s furniture in an orderly manner where each activity station is set out around the classroom such as the Mathematics area, Music area, Geography area, etc.
- Avoid rewards – no homework, no grades, no comparisons, no competition.
- Children learn from and with pears in the classroom. For example grade 5 and 6 would be mixed, this enables older children to act as leaders gaining self-esteem and encouraging younger children through learning, and younger children have role models to look up to.
So you’re probably thinking how can this work in an ESL environment? Well… a teachers role is to redirect a child if needed. There are activities that children need to do each week similar to a school’s curriculum such as: Mathematics, Sciences, Religious Studies, Art, Geography, etc. But, an ESL teacher wouldn’t have set periods for the lessons. Instead, imagine a scenario where the ESL teacher is present to let a child’s interest drive forward by knowing how to interact with a child while fundamentally teaching small periods of English with new vocabulary to learn each week, conversation, grammar and evaluating children’s English. I will talk more about the Montessori method in another blog outlining an example of a day in the life timetable.
We are all natural learners.