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Running Head: Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child

Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child Erin Hlavaty EDUC 6210: Analysis of Contemporary Issues in Education and Montessori Instructor Sandra Wyner Andrew

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Running Head: Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child

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In order to study child development, Maria Montessori repeatedly developed, experimented with, observed, and further refined her own methods throughout her life. The debate of authentic Montessori programs is one in which Montessorians shadow her philosophy and curriculum to develop, experiment with, observe and refine their own methods throughout their lives. During any discussion regarding education, sides will be taken and opinions formed, but the one component that will never be overlooked is that of the child. An authentic Montessori program emphasizes the self-construction of the child through the guidance of a prepared adult within a carefully prepared environment. Maria Montessori defined the role of the prepared adult based upon her understanding of the child. In order to become a Montessori teacher the adult needs spiritual preparation. Alexa C. Huxel states “She is that crucial piece providing the foundation for the other essential elements to unfold organically and naturally in an authentic Montessori environment.” (Huxel, 2013, p.33) A prepared adult must respect, learn to understand, and foster the continual growth of each individual child. In his article How Much Water can You Add and Still Call It Lemonade, Jerry Abraham claims “To be effective Montessori directors, we have to be aware of each student and be sensitive to areas of strength and areas of weakness as we continually note progress. We not only need to be aware of academic progress, but also aware of emotional development, problemsolving skills, moral values, and social skills.” (Abraham, 2012, p.23) Abraham’s statement aligns with the first characteristic of what Net Generation schools should look like as outlined in Mark Powell’s article Is Montessori Ready for the Obama Generation. Through observation the adult is able to be the link between the child and his environment, making the connection through the materials. Powell states, “schools should focus on students through interactive learning, with the teacher as facilitator, working the aisles like a game-show host who jumps in


Running Head: Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child

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occasionally to help out.� (Powell, 2009, p.22) With the focus shifting from the teacher to the student, 21st Century schools are taking a large stride toward creating a framework that aligns with authentic Montessori programs. Under the defined role of the teacher the prepared environment is arranged. “A child has a comparable hunger for his environment. He seeks for things that can nourish his spirit, and he finds his nourishment in activity.� (Montessori, 1966, p.163) For this reason we must take special interest in the prepared environment in which the children are working. The consideration of a healthy environment is necessary in its cleanliness, natural light, and fresh air allowed throughout the spacious classroom. Materials and other furniture should be lightweight as to give feedback from the environment to the child. Built in to each material is a control of error which allows the child to take responsibility for their own learning without dependence upon an adult. From breakable objects, to real tools, to different materials being used within the environment, children are exposed to a wide variety increasing their overall experience in the classroom. Freedom to purposefully move around the classroom and freedom of choice helps the child to develop a relationship with the environment by learning through natural consequences. Mixed age groups allow the children to further develop their social skills along with their psychological awareness. Overall, the classroom environment must meet the needs of the whole child physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually. According to the AMS document Essential Elements of Successful Montessori Schools in the Public School Sector one essential element of the Curriculum/Environment is to offer a full complement of Montessori materials purchased from Montessori dealers. Based on my experience, I have drawn the conclusion that it is unnecessary for materials to be purchased from Montessori dealers. While there are certain Sensorial and Math materials that I would find


Running Head: Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child

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difficult to replicate there are countless Practical Life, Language, Geography, Culture, and Science materials I have made throughout my Montessori career thus far. While I do find it is acceptable to create materials throughout the classroom I do not feel that workbooks and copious amounts of worksheets have a place in an authentic Montessori Early Childhood classroom. “Artificial motivation could serve to undermine the level of intrinsic motivation which guides real choice in the prepared environment.� (Caldwell, 2007, p.19) The use of workbooks removes the input children receive when manipulating the materials. Rather than crucial interaction between the child, the work and the environment, the activity becomes passive. As long as respect is shown for the child through the creation of beautiful, child sized, motivating activities with a built in control of error I do not see a reason why schools with a limited budget should not make materials by hand. Maria Montessori’s approach to education leads to each child reaching their highest potential in all areas of life. Under the direction of a prepared teacher, children develop a joy of learning through the lessons experienced. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive environment. Together, the adult, the environment, and the child balance to form a relationship based on trust and respect that fosters self-confidence and a willingness to explore. Through the guidance of a prepared adult, in a prepared environment, a child is prepared to freely develop without judgments.


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References Abraham, J. (2012, Spring). How Much Water Can You Add and Still Call It Lemonade? Montessori Life, 22-25. AMS Document Essential Elements for Successful Montessori Schools in the Public School Sector, 2. http://amshq.org/School-Resources/Public.aspx Caldwell, S. (2007, July). Workbooks? Is There a Place for Them in Authentic Montessori Education? IMC-Enews, 19-21. Huxel, A. C. (2013, Summer). Authentic Montessori: The Teacher Makes the Difference. Montessori Life, 25(2), 32-34. Montessori, M. The Secret of Childhood. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1966. Powell, M. (2009, Issue 2). Is Montessori Ready for the Obama Generation? Montessori Life, 18-29. Powell, M. (2009). Is Montessori Ready for the Obama Generation? Montessori Life, 21(2), 18-29.

Prepared Adult, Prepared Environment, Prepared Child  

An authentic Montessori program emphasizes the self-construction of the child through the guidance of a prepared adult within a carefully pr...

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