Montessori pedagogy is based on years of patient observation and study of children by Dr. Maria Montessori, who was a scientist uniquely educated and qualified for this task. She was a medical doctor, a student of psychology, and a professor of anthropology, a science that is concerned with man in a unique way. She worked out her methods and developed the materials by letting the children show her what worked and what did not work. It is not a "franchise" or "patented" operation. It is in the public domain. There are responsible organizations (such as the American Montessori Society) that operate on behalf of its proper development in this country.
It has proved itself of universal application. Within a single generation, it has been tried successfully with children of many nations. Climate, nationality, social rank, or type of civilization make no difference to its successful application. India, France, Holland, England, Burma, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Canada, Italy, and the United States have many well-developed Montessori schools.
It has revealed the small child as a lover of order and of intellectual work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy, capable of concentration and eager to learn for the joy of learning.
It is based upon the child's imperious need to learn by doing activities, which develop his faculties at each stage in his mental growth. These stages are called "sensitive periods," and he more readily absorbs knowledge during those periods. While the method offers the child a maximum of spontaneity, it enables him to reach an even higher level of scholastic attainment than under other systems.
Though it does away with the necessity of coercion by means of rewards and punishments, it achieves a higher discipline. It is an active discipline, which originates within the child and is achieved through concentration on work, which he has chosen. Children with extremely active and curious minds are stimulated and utilize their intellectual energies constructively.
It is based on a profound respect for the child's personality and removes from him the preponderant influence of the adult, thus leaving him room to grow in biological independence. The child is allowed a large measure of liberty (not license) and he learns to handle it with responsibility.
It enables the teacher to deal with each child individually in each subject and thus guide him according to his individual requirements. Each child works at his own pace; hence the quick child is not held back by the slow, nor is the latter, in trying to keep up with the former, obliged to flounder along hopelessly out of his depth. Each stone in the mental edifice is "well and truly laid" before the next is added.
It does away with pressure and its trail of challenges. More than this, at every turn it presents endless opportunities among the children for mutual help, which is joyfully given and gratefully received. Since the child works from his own free choice, without pressure and coercion, he is freed from strain, feeling inferior, and other experiences, which are apt to be the unconscious cause of mental disturbances in later life.
The Montessori method develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual faculties but also his powers of deliberation, initiative, and independent choice, with their emotional complements. By living as a free member in a real social community, the child is trained in those fundamental social qualities, which form the basis of good citizenship.