I recently spoke to a friend whose kid goes to a Montessori school and he went on and on about how amazing it was. This wasn’t the first time Montessori had tweaked my interest as at uni a few fellow teacher trainees had done further studies in it as they were convinced about how amazing it was.

Thus, I set about researching what Montessori as and if it really is just PLAY PLAY PLAY which is what most believe.

I came across a good site and several things got me excited:

The “3-hour Work Period” is vital to the success of Montessori education and often misunderstood… children have three hours to choose and carry out their own work. It does NOT include any required outside play, group story time “circle time,” music, or any other activities which take time away from the child’s own choice of activity.

…During this time adults and children alike respect a child’s concentration and do not interrupt one who is busy at a task. All of the traditional group activities spontaneously arise according to the interest of the child or a group of children during the day, or are occasionally called by the teacher if necessary.

Hmmm. Now that is interesting!!!

Also the often misunderstood bit. And it gets better:

Children are grouped in mixed ages and abilities in three to six year spans.

The environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks. There is no limit.

…the child’s effort and work is respected as it is. The teacher, through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what he needs in order to improve.

Even more interesting I think!

So, mixed ages, abilities, teachers setting up subject areas, kids choosing what to do and when and more or less for as long as they want, teachers observing and feeding their reflections into the next lessons based on each student’s progress.

I like it! Yet, I can’t help thinking that some people have misunderstood it and not really offered this degree of learning experience. It would take a lot of confidence and some serious work perhaps.

One last thing that’s fascinating is about teachers:

Some have taken intensive, yearlong graduate courses… passing rigorous practical, written, and oral exams. Others have simply read one of Dr. Montessori’s books and applied some of her ideas in a daycare environment. Between these two extremes there are many other examples and no official check on the use of the word “Montessori.” Due to the wide variation of the preparation of adult there is a corresponding variety in the success and quality of schools.

This sounds very much like TEFL to me. Does this mean that I could read a book and start teaching Montessori? After all, many of these ideas are similar to my own belief of ‘letting ’em get on with it’ and ‘providing the correct stimuli to help them help themselves’.

Any Montessori experts out there??

-all quotes from:

I apologise for the ‘borrowed’ quotations but they are so fantastic I couldn’t resist.

For an insight into Dogme and Montessori take a look at:


3 thoughts on “Montessori

  1. This makes me want to go and work at a Montessori school! It sounds really inline with my beliefs about teaching, yet I actually have no experience or knowledge when it come to teaching kids, so I don’t know if my beliefs translate. However, I am really interested in this and you have given me my reading material for the weekend!

    I have friends who went to Steiner schools, do you know what the difference is?


    • I’ve heard of it but I’ll have a look around.

      This makes me think that just having supportive teachers/assistants in play schools is very good. I used to wander round just joining in with kids who were playing on their own. AT 3ish they were still solitary until reading time when I got bombarded by wet nappies.

  2. I found your page by googling EFL and Montessori. I have quite a bit of information on my blog about it. Feel free to email me if you want or have any questions. The link is below. Click on “Weekly to see some of the posts.” If you send me your address, I’ll send a magazine article I wrote recently about it.

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