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Constructivism and the educational practices of Maria Montessori

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Please explain how constructivism relates to the educational practices of Maria Montessori.

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Montessori schooling is one of the oldest and perhaps most famous types of education designed around enacting constructivist principles. Maria Montessori began her inquiry into the nature of children, learning and education in the early 1900s through her work with 'troubled' and 'learning disabled' children. Her technique of cultivating children's sensory-motor skills and thereby enhancing cognitive development found early success with children who had previously been deemed 'idiots' and beyond help. It is not hard to imagine that her highly child-centered approach, uncommon at that place and time, was instrumental in working with children who were outside of the reach of traditional methods.

In 1907, while working as the director of a day care in an Italian slum, she repeated the successes she had enjoyed with handicapped children, this time with the poor but otherwise 'normal' children of the slum. The fascination and focus she observed, on the part of these children playing with the developmental tools she had designed for use with her handicapped students, resulted in some of the early formalizations of her method. Central to this method was the idea of the child as a self-directed individual. Montessori wrote,

"...(W)e have realized that even in his choice of activity the child is guided by strong inner motives. The child who chooses his activities on his own can express and satisfy an inner need in this way. The child alone knows what is necessary for his development, and an activity which is forced upon him disrupts his development and his equilibrium " (1934, p.27).

Such a reformulation of the role of the learner led to attendant changes in conceptualizations regarding the teacher. As one Montessori educator wrote,

"The Montessori teacher who is responsible for...the prepared environment (of ) the child should perhaps not be called a teacher at all. Montessori called her a 'directress'. This translation from the Italian still does not convey the role the Montessori teacher plays in the child's life, however, for her approach is actually an indirect rather than a direct one. It is similar to that used in therapy, where the goal is not to impose the will of one person on another, but to set free the individual's own potential for constructive self-development..." (Polk Lillard 1972, p. 77).

This view of the child extended beyond the classroom and school to society as a whole. Montessori's prescriptive view for society saw the remedy for so many social ills was to be found in acknowledging the unique needs and contributions of every child and ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses how the education beliefs of Maria Montessori relates to constructivism. A detailed discussion of Montissouri education practices is undertaken. The text contains 1577 words.

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Early Childhood Development vs. Late Childhood Development

I need help with information and organization for this paper. Thank you.

This is about child development of Kindergarten (age 5-6 year old) children, and the comparative differences between them and 11-12 year old children. Such topics as Motivational theories, and so-called experts, such as Piaget and Vygotsky are essential to the criteria of this essay assignment (see scenarios below and full assignment requirements attached).

From attachment:

Read the two classroom scenarios below and discuss them in relation to the assignment tasks that follow.

Scenario 1

Mr Jenson's kindergarten class has just come in from recess and the children are moving purposefully around the room as they prepare for their next activity. They have the freedom to choose among a number of learning experiences that have been set up, some for small groups, some for paired work and some for individual work. The children decide for themselves whether to change their reading folders now or later. The classroom is alive with the sounds of decision-making as children refocus their energies.

Some go and get their reading folders and find a comfortable spot in which to continue reading until Mr Jenson changes their books. Beau and Desmond take their folders into the dramatic play area where reading becomes a part of their play as they read to the dolls. The others are by now seated at different learning centres. Those in pairs or small groups are chatting as they work, others are working on their own.

Earlier in the year, Mr Jenson had taken time to help these children learn this routine and the classroom rules. He also made it a priority to build close relationships with the children in his class and he has encouraged them to become independent learners. Now he uses this time in the morning to observe and record the children's progress and to spend time with individual children. Mr Jenson trusted the children's ability to become self-directing, he has guided them in how to self-direct their free choice time and they have lived up to his expectations.

Andy struggles at school, yet he loves it and his attitude is very positive. Today he chooses to finish a task begun the previous day, in which the children were drawing a picture about their favourite part of a story that Mr Jenson had read to them.
Andy approached Mr Jenson and said: 'I'm going to finish my drawing about Phoebe's adventure. But I'll do more than one drawing 'cos I've got more than one favourite bit. I like drawing you know, I do it at home all the time. Mum says I'm good at it.'

Teacher (T): 'What a good idea. I'm glad there was so much of the story that you liked.'
Andy (A): 'I'll write about it too - so I'll make my own book now, won't I?' (Note that Andy can't yet write.)
T: 'You know I'd like you to do that because then I can put it with our reading time books on the open shelf and we can all enjoy it.'
A: 'But I might say some different things in it because Phoebe's going to have more adventures in my book. It'll probably be a bigger book you know! But I haven't written a book before.'
T: (laughing) 'Well, you'd better get started because I'm dying to read it! I can help you with it if you need any help.'
Andy went straight back to his desk grinning broadly.

Scenario 2

Next door, Miss Wheeler has no time for observing. She is busy directing and controlling everyone's behaviour. In her kindergarten class, all the children must change their reading folders after recess. This schedule means that the children have a long wait in line, and there is a lot of pushing and shoving during the wait. It isn't easy but once their books are changed Miss Wheeler makes the children sit still until everyone is finished. She then assigns the children by table to specific learning activities where they must stay until she rings a bell signalling rotation to the next activity centre.

In Miss Wheeler's class, Ben is a constant problem. He is always trying to sneak out of his assigned centre and go to the one that his friend is assigned to. Another child, Lydia, cries a lot, saying that she doesn't want to be with the 'mean' kids at her table. Miss Wheeler is in constant demand, not only to settle disputes but also to make children stay where they are supposed to be. She sees the situation in her classroom as clear evidence that the children are not capable of self direction.
Miss Wheeler has little time for individual interactions. She always rewards good work with 'excellent!' or 'you are the best' stickers and stars but wonders why this does not excite the children very much. To children who do not manage to complete their work to an appropriate standard, she either says 'keep trying' or 'try harder' or writes such comments on their work. But she does wonder why these children do not show an increased interest in doing better after receiving these responses. She relies heavily on worksheet activities and wonders why, despite these opportunities to practice new knowledge, the children are not progressing as fast as she would like.

Assignment task

(Note: Part A is the major part of this assignment. Your comments in Part B are expected to be made in approximately 250 words.)

Part A: From your reading on motivational theories in the Readings, the textbook and any extra reading you undertake, discuss and analyse the two scenarios using examples from them as a framework for your essay. For this assignment, you should orientate your discussion to the developmental needs of younger children in schools (5-6 years). (Note: motivational theories include elements such as attribution theory, goal setting and the development of self-efficacy and self-esteem. You will learn about these and other aspects of motivational theories from your reading.)

Part B: From Reading 16, discuss one aspect of motivational theory that interests you, and that raises interesting issues in light of the developmental differences that exist between younger learners (5-7 years) and older learners (11-12 years). Support your discussion with material from the recommended reading list (below), as well as from Reading 16. (Remember that this discussion should be approximately 250 words.)

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