Montessori Curriculum vs Montessori Philosophy

Montessori Curriculum or Montessori Philosophy

Montessori Curriculum”, is a Misnomer. This Article discusses the entire element in a very lucid and Interesting manner.

What is Montessori Curriculum?

This is a very important and interesting article throwing light on various current ideas relating to and having relevance with ‘Montessori Curriculum’, ‘Is Montessori enough to be a Preschool Curriculum?’ Importance of Montessori in Good Parenting!, ….
In this study regarding Preschool Curriculum, we will throw light on the term ‘Montessori curriculum’ by discussing these: Who is / what is Maria Montessori? Why so many Preschools use the term ‘Montessori’?, What is Preschool Curriculum and does anything like ‘Montessori Curriculum’ exists?, Importance of Montessori in Indian Families / Indian scenario!, Good Parenting and Montessori, Relevance of Montessori in present preschool curriculum.


Who is Maria Montessori?

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), was a medical doctor and anthropologist, opened the first Casa dei Bambini (not “school” but “house of children”) in Rome, Italy in 1907.
Dr. Montessori’s work in Early Childhood Development (Child Care and Education) is considered to be remarkable, novel, and very important.
Her work pertaining to Child Care and Education is considered as invaluable treatise which shall keep on guiding the entire human civilization.
Her popularity, persona and image is so large that it would be impossible to find a single parent or childhood practitioner who would not have heard about her or studied her works.
However, early-childhood education has been echoed by many other giants of early-childhood development as well, they are —Froebel, Rudolf Steiner, Pestalozzi, Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Freud and many more, the list is really endless.
It shall be clearly understood that dropping even a single name of any early-childhood scientist, will give us nothing, but a half-baked cake.


Main IDEA of Dr. Montessori:

Montessori could be considered the FIRST early-childhood scientist, and a WOMAN with a REAL HEART of MOTHER (WOMAN), who ‘clearly understood’ about the BIG brain of TINY child.
In the words of Professor Henry W. Holmes of Harvard University – “It is wholly within the bounds of safe judgment to call Dr. Montessori’s work remarkable, novel, and important. It is remarkable, if for no other reason, because it represents the constructive effort of a woman. We have no other example of an educational system—original at least in its systematic wholeness and in its practical application—worked out and inaugurated by the feminine mind and hand. It is remarkable, also, because it springs from a combination of womanly sympathy and intuition, broad social outlook, scientific training, intensive and long-continued study of educational problems, and, to crown all, varied and unusual experience as a teacher and educational leader. No other woman who has dealt with Dr. Montessori’s problem—the education of young children —has brought to it personal resources so richly diverse as hers. These resources, furthermore, she has devoted to her work with an enthusiasm, an absolute abandon, like that of Pestalozzi and Froebel, and she presents her convictions with an apostolic ardour which commands attention. A system which embodies such a capital of human effort could not be unimportant.”
Dr. Montessori’s works goes into in-depth analysis regarding ‘views of childhood’. She discussed the ‘Problems of Child’ in the ‘world of Adults’.
Montessori stressed the idea of the child’s capacity for active self-directed learning through sensory and motor interaction with the environment with guidance and error-correcting feedback.
She had penned all her works and research, which will guide all coming generations.
She came up with ‘Montessori apparatus’ which is quite popularly used in Preschools and in the home.
Being a devout Catholic Christian, she in fact understood the meaning of life and so clearly stated that ‘For a child the most important thing is to enjoy the life’ (Vedas and Upanishads also says the same, so it would be no exaggeration to call her Saint).
She had come up with elaborate guidelines regarding how to run a school, how to do documentation (charting, register, accounts etc).
She had emphasized on the importance of these four elements for the child – Cleanliness, Order, Poise, and Conversation.
She had discussed the underlying philosophies which shall help into developing a preschool Lesson plans.



Are studies, works and research of Dr. Montessori sufficient enough to make a Preschool Curriculum?

The one word answer to this would be “NO”.
The works of Dr. Montessori is not sufficient to make a complete and wholesome Preschool Curriculum, because of many reasons discussed as under:

Montessori Philosophy and NOT Montessori Curriculum:

Montessori gave the philosophies which will help to build and develop Lesson Plans and not the readymade Lesson Plan for entire content areas. At the best, we can call Montessori works and research as ‘Montessori Philosophy’, which would be like a theory or attitude that will act as a guiding principle for developing lessons plans, build curriculum and run a school.

Time was different:

What students need to learn today is not the same Science, Mathematics, Social Science etc, that their parents and grandparents needed to learn. When today’s students will become adults, they will face new challenges for Science, Mathematics, Social Science etc. Anticipation of proficiency required to excel in future, is the need of hour. To have the Curriculum of Present Times, it is important that the Scientific and Technological advancements shall be properly inculcated in the Curriculum.

Content areas got bigger:

Huge development has taken place in all Content Areas – Science, Mathematics, Social Science etc. Immense research has happened, and as a Human Civilization we have progressed phenomenally in last 100 Years.


“Independence” the word Dr. Montessori had said to be given to the child –

Meaning and scope of “Independence” is very large, but everybody now understands that, to enjoy Independence in proper sense we need to learn many things. To enjoy independence properly the child has to learn as to how to be safe and secure. Learning about safety and security is required to be independent. And, the society has gone under tremendous change, the home environment, the field environment has changed tremendously, accordingly the Learning which requires to be transferred to the child has to change tremendously.

New Research in Child Education and Care –

Lot many research has taken place in the space of Child Education and Care and all research needs to be included to form a complete curriculum.


Pretend Play is also one area which signifies the importance of using all Researches and all Scholars and Educators ideas to for a wholesome Curriculum. Starting from Vygotsky to present times, lot many researches has been done into the areas of ‘Pretend Play’. Now, we have many statistical and empirical evidences to highlight the importance of ‘Pretend Play’ into Curriculum.
There is too much difference between ‘Pretend Play’ and ‘Actual Play’ and their benefits. ‘Pretend Play’ and ‘Actual Play’ is not a substitute of each other, ‘Pretend Play’ and ‘Actual Play’ cannot replace each other, and both have their own place in Curriculum.


Montessori Apparatus :

Dr. Montessori also drew reference from various sources to build the entire set of ‘Montessori Apparatus’, however, she combined the entire elements to form a system. She conceived it,
elaborated it in practice, and established it in schools. But, just in the same way she moved the work further by taking it from her predecessors, it is also required on our part to take this process more and more ahead.


Games and Stories :

Dr. Montessori did not venture into the areas of Games and Stories; however her compatriot of Child Education and Care did so and quite successfully. In present times, we cannot undermine and ignore the remarkable skill and power getting developed through the use of Games and Stories.

Individual versus Group :

In present times, the social structure has changed, the basic fabric of social structures has also changed, in such changed scenario, the importance of Group Work, even for a child, has increased considerably. Here, everybody should be aware that nothing as specific is suggested to go for ‘Individual’ or go for ‘Group’, well, it entirely depends upon activities / exercises etc. But, importance of ‘Group’ in present times can not at all be ignored.


Some General Questions…

Is there any difference between Montessori Education and other Education?

Education is summation of ‘learning of entire human civilization’. ‘Montessori’ shall also be considered as one additional philosophy into educational sphere. ‘Montessori’ is not something as some stand-alone thing which will cover entire gamut so as to be ‘Education’. Dr. Montessori also never considered it to be so.
In the words of Dr. Montessori – “I believe that I have by my method established the conditions necessary to the development of scientific pedagogy; and whoever adopts this method opens, in doing so, a laboratory of experimental pedagogy.”
So definitely she was the beginning and not the end and of course not the summation.

For whom Montessori is Most Useful?

‘Montessori’ is useful for Parents, Educators, Preschool Learners, Childhood Education and Care Researchers, Learners of Psychology.
But, Montessori is Most Useful for Care Givers / Care Minders (anybody involved into taking CARE of child), be it Parents, Grand Parents, Guardians, Teachers, Administrators, Educators etc.

Montessori and Learner’s Age!

By far it is put that ‘Montessori’ is applicable to the child of age of 3 Years to 11 Years.
But, this is not correct. Montessori Philosophy is applicable for each Learners – be it Preschoolers or Adult Learners. Dr. Montessori saw Learning from a very different perspective, which nobody before her, saw that. Even One sentence of her Learnings, if properly imbibed could change the attitude of Care Givers / Care Minders. Montessori Philosophy, primarily suggests us to ‘see things from child (learners) perspective’, and this concept could be used for any kind of Learners.

Could ‘Montessori’ be used as a Learning Style?

Montessori is a big philosophy having much larger scope than Style, there could be hundred learning style when we approach Montessori as a Philosophy. None Learning Style is right or wrong; it entirely depends upon Learner and Area on which discussion is on.

Can Preschool Education be without Montessori?

No, Preschool Education can never be without ‘Montessori’, but along with Montessori, works of many other Researchers, Scientists, Educators is required to develop a proper full-fledged Preschool Curriculum.

Can there be anything as such – ‘Montessori School’?

If ‘Montessori School’ is being used as a Noun, then of course it could be, just like there could be Mahatma Gandhi School, Vinoba Bhave School and so on and so forth.
But, if ‘Montessori School’ is being used as an ‘Adjective’, then it would in fact be a misnomer. ‘Montessori’ and equally ‘Waldorf Kindegarten’, ‘Reggio Emilia’, ‘Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences’ can never be a SCHOOL in itself. All these are GREAT Philosophies, but NOT all-in-all in them. All put together will make a SCHOOL and not individually. Let us understand that they are not like different educational sects, which will lead to same God, but like different flowers to be bind together, put together to make a beautiful flower bouquet. We as a Human Civilization have progressed a lot and in coming times, we will progress phenomenally, and that will make the Life and Learning more challenging, so space, works and knowledge of all scientists, researchers, educators and enablers is required to make a SCHOOL.

Dr. Montessori was too large minded to claim her work all-in-all of Child Education and Care, so it is only done by some poor followers who might not have fully understood ‘The Montessori Philosophy’. We would not be justified in adopting one philosophy at the exclusion of every other philosophy even if such adopted philosophy could be considered as the most inspiring philosophy.

‘Montessori’ is very important element of ‘Preschool Curriculum’, but ‘Montessori’ is NOT ‘The Curriculum’.



© Copyrights Reserved with Writer Abhidha Seth.

Abhidha Seth is a ‘Child Education and Care’ Expert and is also, Co-Founder of “Preschool for Child Rights”.






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