Montessori Principles and Art Education Here.
You must certainly have encountered the term Montessori already. In recent years it has been a much sought-after direction in education, taken from the Italian teacher Maria Montessori, who, based on observations of children in daily life and when playing, developed a system of knowledge about children.
It primarily includes the recognition that children are equal human beings to adults and that they should be treated as such! But that's not everything-according to Montessori we should also talk to a child as an equal human being and we should support his/her development with tolerance, respect and information, instead of prohibitions and orders. We should replace orders with formulations that guide a child towards what he/she should do, in particular if it is correction of something spilled or broken, but we should guide them wisely, not manipulatively.
Montessori says that no praise is motivating for a child and today this claim is backed by a number of modern psychological research studies. She also draws attention, together with the collective of authors of the book Respektovat a být respektován (Respect and Be Respected), inspired by various figures in psychology, that there is a large difference between praise and recognition, where praise does not generalise a child's merit, but only concerns a specific event. Recognition and, in particular, thanks is what children need. We do not go overboard telling an adult or friend that he/she is a great painter when he/she paints an interesting picture, it is more that we recognise him/her for what we like about the picture, what we identify with. And we should treat children the same way, support the healthy development of their personality, their ability to make decisions and form their own life in accordance with their own ideas. If we understand this, for us it will not be hard to understand why punishments should be completely taboo when educating children.
However, natural consequences, such as the need to wipe up spilt paint, are something quite different, but this can be communicated to a child without accusation, as a natural thing. A child is very perceptive and stores every attack on his/her person very well in his/her memories and they form him/her and how he/she will behave in life. If, through our actions, we show that all situations in ordinary life can be resolved by agreement with respect for all the parties, a child learns to work in a collective and individually, he/she will find it easier to move through life and will not be burdened by unnecessary conflicts and complexes put in place by other people. It is not easy to behave ideally, in particular if we have grown up under the heavy hand of militaristic parents or under the otherwise unsuccessful guidance of adults. But this is why we are motivated to raise children that we will meet in life so that they do not have the same wounds to their souls as we do.
It is possible to instruct children in this spirit in a kindergarten, a school, a household, in art lessons, in a painting studio, anywhere. Children very frequently respond well to it, because it is very healthy and in many cases tried-and-tested; basically, we think that there is no other method that we could be so enthusiastic about. Let's try it together!
What are the basic principles of the Montessori method?
- A child is his/her own creator (a child-future independent adult-draws suggestions from his/her environment and him/herself determines how and when such suggestions influence his/her actions. We offer inspiration, we show possible paths, we leave decisions to the creator...)
- Help me to do it myself (a little artist obtains new knowledge and skills using his/her own abilities and at his/her own pace and grows into the world that surrounds him/her.)
- The hand is the soul's instrument. Work by hand is the basis for understanding things, phenomena, developing thought and speech. (Our knowledge is based on practical teaching and handling things, colours, shapes, ... We place emphasis on linking physical and mental activities).
- Respecting sensitive periods. (We honour every child's sensitive period. We let ourselves be inspired in the suggestion of favourite topics dealt with, we gradually develop and deepen them. The way that artists create in cycles, we link the topics of lessons like one coral next to another.)
- Free choice of work. (A little painter decides him/herself what he/she will do, who he/she will work with and how long he/she will work. We respect time for painting, time for playing, for rest...)
- Prepared environment. (The art studio and our workshop are arranged in such a manner that children can take things from shelves, know their place and return them to their place after work. All independently, without external help.)
- Polarisation of attention. (During artistic work a child is able to concentrate intensively and for a long time on work that attracts his/her attention. The basis of learning here is to empathetically sense the most appropriate topic for every child individually, we help develop this topic and maintain motivation for work.)
- Holistic learning. (Physical and mental activities should be directly reflected in the learning process. The topics and programme of our lessons are always planned as a whole, the stages direct teaching, movement activities, actual painting, drawing and model-making are alternated. They are stages where every child formulates how and what he/she will work on. And we then build a programme for following lessons together.)