PHILOSOPHERS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO ECDE
6a iii). Provide an intricate analysis of Maria Montessori’s perspective on ECDE
6.5 MARIA MONTESSORI
She was born in Italy in 1870. She was the first woman in Italy to earn a doctorate degree in medicine. She worked at the University of Rome. During her time people could not distinguish between the mentally retarded children and the insane. She established a home for poor children. Her work brought her into contact with children with special needs, the mentally disabled children. While attending to the children, she realized that mental deficiency was more of an educational problem than a medical problem and so it required educational treatment. She believed that children should be treated with respect. To meet the needs of the children who were mentally retarded she developed methods of teaching the children and succeeded in teaching mentally retarded children to read and write. They also passed national examination exams like the normal children. She also discovered that her methods could be applied to children who were not mentally retarded.
Her beliefs about children
- The first 3 years of a child are the foundation years. Crucial years of development.
- Believed that during early years the mind of the child absorbs a lot of information.
- Believed that children deserve to be respected.
- Believed that children who were mentally retarded required educational treatment.
- Believed that each child is unique and important.
- She believed that children are the foundation of a better and peaceful World.
- She believed that each child can achieve his/her maximum and the environment determines whether the child will achieve his or her maximum.
Her contributions to early childhood education.
- She developed methods of teaching children bearing her name. There are many Montessori schools or ECD centres in Kenya and the World.
- Developed materials for teaching and learning.
- Developed curriculum for children.
Principles of Montessori Education.
- Individualized approach. Each child is taught as an individual according to his/her needs.
- Child centred approach.
- Cater for the whole child (holistic approach).
- Importance of real life tasks to prepare the child for life. The activities are meaningful to children.
- Learning activities are spontaneous or natural. Children learn what they want to learn. This develops interest in learning.
- Curriculum based on a specific sequence of activities.
- Children are encouraged to select activities which they are interested in.
- Following a specific sequence while using material in each activity. The materials were designed and developed according to specific specifications for example colour (pink, light blue and white), size (fit the child’s hand).
- Children are required to respect the work of other children.
- Learning is at the pace of children depending on their abilities.
The characteristics of montessori curriculum include:
- Life centred. Learning activities were real life activities.
- Importance of practicals. Learning activities are life activities that children are taught practical skills like self-care, sweeping, and dressing.
- Child centred. Learning activities are spontaneous or natural. Children learn what they want to learn.
- Comprehensive. The curriculum is comprehensive. It covers the following areas: Mathematics: Topics covered included: counting, addition, multiplication, subtraction and division.
Science: Topic covered includes: Observation, experimentation, exploration, , Language: phonetics, letters, sounds, spellings, language skills, basic vocabulary, essay writing. Social Studies: geography, history, foods, World,
Art and Craft
Role of a teacher
- Observer. The teacher’s role is to observe the child in order to understand what he or she needs.
- Helper. The teacher’s role is to help children to be useful members of a society.
- Designer. The teacher designs and develops learning materials.
- Guide. The teacher is a guide. Children are given opportunities to do activities they want to do under the guidance of the teacher.
- Facilitator. The teacher provides appropriate environment for children to learn. The teacher provides classroom environment where children respond to their natural drive to learn. The teacher provides a safe, attractive and stimulating environment which encourages growth, development and learning.
Advantages of Montessori Approach
- Develops positive self-concept.
- Equips children with life skills hence making them useful.
- Inculcates values in children like: tolerance, independence, courtesy, cooperation, hard work, obedience etc
- Makes children useful to themselves and others.
- Develops interest in learning.
- Explain the disadvantages of the Montessori approach.
- Explain the importance of philosophy to ECDE teachers