Montessori pedagogy: “Bring the children’s will to learn and perform – even in school!”


DUSSELDORF. Montessori pedagogy is more than 100 years old and seems to be flourishing again: the digitalisation of education brings new forms of learning that are strongly based on the credo of the reform movement “help me do it myselfRemember – “discovery learning”, individualization and interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching are key words. Appropriately, a new federal association has been formed with Montessori-Germany, which wants to promote the movement. Its chairman, the mathematician Dr. Jörg Beuysen explains what this is about in the following guest article.

“We need to move from the teaching factory to the learning factory”: Children in a Montessori school. Photo: Shutterstock

A society’s biggest investment should be in education, because today’s children and young people are the designers of the future.

Much has already happened in the classical school system with frontal teaching, geared to impart knowledge according to standardized curricula in harmony with the age group and a very early selection based on performance evaluations according to uniform numerical grades. However, it comes from the thinking of the early industrial society and is more like a “training factory”. The world has become complicated. When it comes to future learning, we should address the question of how we as a community shape our future and with what skills and abilities and with what knowledge we want to release children and young people to society.

Nienhuis Montessori

Maria Montessori. Photo: Nienhuis Montessori

Do you know Albert Nienhuis? The Dutch carpenter worked closely with Maria Montessori to produce teaching materials that corresponded to her pedagogical vision. In 1929, he founded Nienhuis Montessori, the world’s leading supplier of Montessori materials.

The company has combined craftsmanship with technical finesse for over 85 years. Nienhuis Montessori’s product world allows children to explore their world independently, just as it did in the time of Albert Nienhuis. We use only the best materials, processed with care, dedication, attention to detail – and a deep connection to Maria Montessori’s pedagogy. Nienhuis Montessori has been officially recognized by the Association Montessori Internationale for decades.

Here you can get more information about Nienhuis Montessori.

The goal of any education should therefore be optimally to promote the personality development of every single child and every single young person. All children are naturally curious and willing to perform and develop. It is clear and true that children develop differently. It is just as obvious and logical that the learning environment for children and young people is geared towards this. In any case, it is desirable that society provide all that is necessary for each child to fully realize their own potential. (I am aware that this is not a requirement that is easy to implement. At least I do not see that the use of educational opportunities is reduced to a lottery, as was done in Frankfurt this year, for example).

The traditional German educational landscape is far from this idea. We have to question this compliant, rigid approach, this tight cross in every school year. We need to question how we prevent failure, mostly in the form of poor school grades and negative learning experiences that impair children and young people’s willingness to perform. Educational researchers and neuroscientists prove that a school without grades, learning without pressure, the recognition of the individual and true inclusion create a learning environment free of fear and thus ensure the free development of personalities. And from day-to-day experience, we know children can count on doing a lot.

The spirit of the times today is characterized by individualization, where products, processes and services can be adapted to the users’ individual needs at any time – whether it is the playlist, streaming behavior or the Internet’s AI-based proposals. Why should it not also be possible in the world of education? How up-to-date and sustainable is the traditional school form in these times?

“Maria Montessori developed her own pedagogy more than 100 years ago through empirical observation”

It is important to respond individually to the children’s age and developmental interests and receptivity and to adapt the environment in which they spend their everyday lives to their respective physical and mental needs. We’re going from the training factory to leather factory come. That way, children and young people will continue to learn fun. By doing so, they learn to push their boundaries, to overcome obstacles independently, to acknowledge their own strengths and respect their weaknesses, to make mistakes in order to grow. Adults are often more inhibitions when it comes to learning.

There are approaches to adapting the learning processes. The main focus is on digitization and AI technology. Learning platforms are being developed that want to make learning in the form of ‘gaming’ tasty for children. However, these new methods are only algorithmically interactive. Children need someone to talk to, they want to discuss. You want in her peer group exist and gain recognition. So-called “intelligent”, automated one-on-one lessons or learning events for self-directed digital competence development convey – at most – queryable knowledge, but tend not to promote critical thinking, let alone the development of personality with all its nuances.

Above all, we must first have a common understanding of which digital media can be used sensibly in class and how. It is not enough to give every student a tablet or laptop and then hope that everyone can use it purposefully. We need to make didactic considerations about how students should be introduced to dealing with the media so that they understand exactly what positive and what negative things can be achieved with it. They need to experience digital media as a tool that needs to be used sensibly. Children and young people must also understand that the Internet does not forget anything, ie. they need to be aware of the consequences of each post. Critical handling of the information flow must also be learned. Media literacy is a broad and important field.

But first one must be aware of children’s development and the principles of learning that are based on it. Maria Montessori developed her own pedagogy more than 100 years ago through empirical observation. It starts “from the child” and focuses on the individual teenager. It takes into account age and development-related interests and susceptibilities, which are treated individually. According to Montessori, the environment in which children and young people spend their everyday lives must also be prepared in such a way that their respective physical and mental needs are met and that children and young people can develop optimally and develop their potential.

Findings that can be observed through the disruption of children’s and young people’s development during the pandemic give rise to long-awaited societal discussions about children and young people’s needs for healthy and mature development. Meanwhile, there have already been one or two initiatives in the school education sector to counteract unwanted development. The age group 0-6-year-olds, on the other hand, are almost completely ignored. It is hardly appreciated that this phase of development forms the basis of all further phases of life. There must be an urgent and comprehensive education offensive that guarantees all children holistic support.

An argument that is repeatedly put forward in favor of the digitalisation of classical teaching is that the individuality that has recently been in demand in teaching has finally been secured. Digitization, however, is reportedly only the solution, because as mentioned above, the necessary didactics is still lacking at the moment. On the other hand, all the individual interests and talents of each child are taken into account and encouraged in a Montessori environment. Therefore, it is not necessary for us as Montessori educators to rush into digitalization just to finally be able to differentiate.

“The strengthening and development of one’s own personality is the basis of all development”

Especially the recent past has shown that change must be seen as a constant, that society must get used to disruptive processes. But the world’s interdependence and network will continue to evolve. Everything is related to everything. This is a holistic process, which must also be reflected in the pedagogical approach. Only when children are brought up to be responsible and independent can they positively influence social development with great self-confidence. It is usually not always to know everything, it is more about the students learning to learn and knowing where to lead if they do not know anything. Children’s willingness to learn and perform must be encouraged to flourish – also in school.

Author: Jörg Boysen, President of Montessori Germany. Photo: private

Ultimately, the main goal of Montessori pedagogy is to accompany children on their path from childhood to adolescence and enable them to become independent, mature, and independent members of our society. It’s a holistic approach to education that is about the big picture – Maria Montessori calls it cosmic theorywhich means taking responsibility for our world and society, ie developing a sense of responsibility.

We can not predict in detail what specific skills and abilities children and young people will need to cope with the future. But the history of mankind shows us that the strengthening and development of one’s own personality is the basis of all development. It would be interesting to ask the young people what they need to shape the future.

We just did this; the results will emerge from a master’s survey titled “You Learn Things You Really Need” in June this year by Beltz Verlag.

“Learning with much joy and without fear”: The (slightly different) performance evaluation at a Montessori school

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