History of the Montessori Education Philosophy
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. He must do it himself or it will never be done. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years he spends in the classroom because he is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. Dr. Montessori felt, therefore, that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but rather to cultivate his own natural desire to learn.
In the Montessori classroom this objective is approached in two ways: first, by allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by his own choice rather than by being forced; and second, by helping him to perfect all his natural tools for learning, so that his ability will be at a maximum in future learning situations. The Montessori materials have this dual long-range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving specific information to the child.
The use of materials is based on the young child's unique aptitude for learning which Dr. Montessori identified as the "absorbent mind." In her writings she frequently compared the young mind to a sponge. It literally absorbs information from the environment. Since children retain this ability to learn by absorbing until they are almost seven years old, Dr. Montessori reasoned that their experience could be enriched by a classroom where they could handle materials which would demonstrate basic educational information for them. Dr. Montessori always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. In order to learn, there must be concentration, and the best way a child can concentrate is by fixing his attention on some task he is performing with his hands. All the equipment in a Montessori classroom allows the child to reinforce his casual impressions by inviting him to use his hands for learning.
"We must not wait upon him -- but educate him to be independent."
"Development comes from environmental experience."
" A child seeks for things that can nourish his spirit, and he finds his nourishment in activity."