Psychology of Learning
Working with institutionalized and inner-city youngsters, Dr. Maria Montessori was struck by
how avidly the children absorbed knowledge from their surroundings. Given developmentally
appropriate materials and the freedom to follow their interests, they joyfully taught themselves.
Dr. Montessori observed the following, 1 "When the teachers were weary of my observations,
they began to allow the children to do whatever they pleased. I saw children with their feet on
the tables, or with their fingers in their noses, and no intervention was made to correct them. I
saw others push their companions, and I saw dawn in the faces of these an expression of
violence; and not the slightest attention on the part of the teacher. Then I had to intervene to
show with what absolute rigor it is necessary to hinder, and little by little suppress, all those
things which we must not do, so that the child may come to discern clearly between good and
2" A room in which all the children move about usefully, intelligently, and voluntarily, without
committing any rough or rude act, would seem to me a classroom very well disciplined
A disciplined classroom fosters a richer learning environment. The goal of Montessori
education is to foster a child's natural inclination to learn. Montessori teachers guide rather than
instruct, linking each student with activities that meet his interests, needs, and developmental
level. The classroom is designed to allow movement and collaboration, as it also promotes
concentration and a sense of order. There is not just one main difference between Montessori
and traditional education, but many differences. 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 to how long a child can work with a piece of material. Montessori emphasizes
learning through all five senses, not...