Author: Lea S Irmer, B.A., M.A.
As a tutor, primarily for secondary students, the reaction being Montessori trained for secondary schools causes either surprise, enthusiasm or sceptical looks from parents. Sometimes it happens because parents don’t even know that there are secondary Montessori schools (in fact, for example, in Germany you can even take A- levels in Montessori schools) but in my experience there is sometimes a misunderstanding in the educational concept. Yes, Montessori students are encouraged to count golden beads for mathematical exercise but there is also an educational reason behind it. This is how the practical Montessori method in the context of learning works and this is my approach that I take out of my academically research of Maria Montessori’s educational learning methods: to understand the reason behind something, to be encouraged to be willing to learn and as a tutor to help the students to rise to their full potential and, therefore, to be confident in life. So I took original Maria Montessori’s educational methods and transformed it into my own secondary teaching material and even into adult teaching materials.
Accordingly, the focus of my teaching “probs” lies on “behind the idea” of Montessori’s materials. The learning materials I create for my students are obviously to engage the student to learn something new. Using a child’s natural curiosity and inquisitiveness to discover and learn new things, the learning materials have to be individualised to student’s interests and needs. Perfectly personalised materials also localise and separate learning problems so students can take one step at a time. Not overwarming with learning matters but helping the student to rise to her/his full potential in her/his own speed and style needs to be the approach for the tutor. Helping and encouraging the child to reach this also trains the student life skills and confidence in herself/ himself.
“Free the child`s potential, and you will transform him to the world”- Maria Montessori
Confidence and understanding! In my opinion one of the key approaches for a tutor for her/his student. To help the child building up confidence in her/his skills can help to use the already learned skills and especially by understanding “the concept” or “the system” behind the learned subjects helps the student to be able to transform the knowledge of something into strategies to solve new problems. An example might explain it better: the understanding of the concept behind trigonometry from mathematics can be transferred to geography for the question of how to read a map whilst locating points (or in fact, a ship). It can also be transferred to even culture or history for an understanding of the culture of druids according to the angles of sun and shadow at Stonehenge. And if you want to take it further you can also gain an understanding of British heritage but that would require a combination of knowledge from other subjects which you also had to understand before you can transfer it into a different, maybe unknown subject.
There is a more effective way of learning whilst using more or even all of your senses. In our times for example being bilingual gives you more and more an advantage in life and especially jobwise. Therefore, it is also getting more important in younger stages. The concept of learning with your senses like Maria Montessori suggested can be used for it. To give one example of her pedagogy concept already transferred into modern learning needs would be one in primarily early stages: Easy learning of new words (also in different languages) can be done on multiple (sometimes parallel) exercises. The student is learning with all her/his senses: seeing the written word, writing and hearing it, acting the word out and maybe even smell it helps the child to learn very easily. Some of you might already use this technique by singing and “dancing” with your little ones the famous child song “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”. Moving, singing, pointing out anatomic parts of your own body and having fun… Best way to learn easily!
About Lea: Lea is a private tutor at Holland Park with a variety of experience with primary, secondary and adult students. She has worked in the education sector for over nine years and not only taught, but also looks at the academic and psychological side of education.
Her core subjects are German, Drama and History and her passion is child development.