Historical information shows that the actions by Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori (1870-1952) had a tremendous impact on educational practices in Australia and other parts of the globe. Montessori displayed outstanding performance in education since her childhood, and she developed the passion of becoming an engineer after completing her secondary education (Faryadi, 2007). Montessori became the first woman in Italy to join medical school during a time when men had dominance in the society. Montessori’s influence on education began in 1907 when she started her learning center in Rome (Faryadi, 2007). The scholar afterwards embarked on a series of educational campaigns that advocated for a teaching method that centered on disabled children. Australia, among other nations, was one of the major beneficiaries of the educational system that was developed by Montessori. The learning method proposed by the educator gives learners the opportunity to be active during the process of acquiring knowledge, and this builds trainees into critical thinkers.
Montessori’s Contribution to Educational Practices and thinking in Australia
Duckworth (2008) writes that one of the major contributions Montessori had on educational practices and thinking in Australia is that she sensitized policy makers, curriculum developers, educators, and learners to consider education as a tool that would end constant wars, abject poverty, and social inequalities. The scholar carried out massive sensitization programs during a time when conflicts were frequent not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world (Duckworth, 2008). Reports by Duckworth (2008) indicate that lack of proper education and knowledge served as a contributor to the frequent wars that led to physical destruction among other loses. Montessori felt that every person should have a fair opportunity to seek education regardless of their cultural or racial background.
Apart from advocating for equal opportunity for all people and sensitizing members of the community about the essence of education, Montessori rallied educators to adopt the learner-centered type of education (Duckworth, 2008). Instructors according to the scholar should give learners the opportunity to contribute actively towards the topic of discussion. Instructors should only act as facilitators who offer guidance to learners, but should not take charge of the entire teaching-learning process without giving learners the opportunity to offer their suggestions and contributions. Montessori argued that learner-centered type of teaching and learning is an essential factor that builds critical thinking in learners. Students who carry out their investigations learn new things, and also gain the experience to conduct personal studies.
The influence Montessori had on educational activities in Australia led to the development of the Montessori National Curriculum (MNC) that was recommended by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in 2011 to be an alternative national curriculum that should be added to ACARA's Recognition Register (Duckworth, 2008). ACARA embarked on an investigation to identify the effectiveness of MNC as an alternative curriculum and the report revealed that the curriculum is similarly effective to the national curriculum and that education would witness major transformations should the program take full effect (Duckworth, 2008).
Montessori contributed to the development of Montessori classrooms which are special types of classrooms that offer lessons that are suitable for learners at a certain stage. Montessori classrooms are based on Montessori’s concept which she called the four planes of development (Duckworth, 2008). The educator argued that from birth to the sixth age, a child is characterized by the absorbent mind that constantly absorbs virtually all aspects of the environment. The child in the second plane which starts from age six to twelve explores the environment with abstract thought and imagination and it is at this point where the child starts to differentiate between facts and fiction. The third plane starts from age twelve until age eighteen and a person at this stage develops a humanistic mind that is eager to understand humanity, and how he or she can contribute to the society’s wellness. The fourth phase starts from age eighteen until twenty-four, and individuals at this stage explore their surrounding with a specialist mind, and individuals tend to take their position or place in the community. The four stages by Montessori now help educators to develop classroom settings that would suit learners at different stages. For instance, instructors tend to organize classrooms that have colorful substances to attract the attention of young learners and to develop an interest in the learning process.
The Significance of Montessori’s Contribution
The contributions Montessori had on the education system in Australia had numerous significances on educational practices and thinking in Australia. One of the major significance of the scholar’s activities is that many people were able to acquire education in different centers of learning without considering their racial or cultural background (Powell, 2009). The opportunity to access education on equal basis eradicates cases of social inequality which is a major problem that may lead to conflicts in the society. Equal opportunity to access education created competition in schools, and it is now impossible to detect the person who might emerge as the best.
The second significance of the scholar’s contribution to education in Australia is that she championed for equal opportunities in education for children who live with disability (Morrison, 2007). Initially, disabled children were disadvantaged in the sense that many of them lacked the opportunity to attend school because of their condition. However, the situation changed after Montessori’s sensitization that every person is the same regardless of their physical condition. The educator’s sensitization programs motivated the government to put up more centers where disabled children could acquire education, and as it were expected, some disabled children emerged as educational champions.
The third significance of Maria contribution to educational thinking and practices in Australia is that instructors moved away from an educational system that is restrictive in nature and one where the leaner has no freedom to make personal choices, to one where learners have more freedom. Learners’ freedom, in this case, encompasses giving children the chance to engage in personal studies and also providing the opportunity to propose their ideas. Duckworth (2008) however, feels that it is essential to put some limitations on the freedom that children have to avoid a scenario where learners engage in unconstructive acts. Learners, for instance, should not have the freedom to access information from the internet that may harm their reasoning, and which may lead them into undesirable acts. Faryadi (2007) on his side feels that too much freedom on children may build them into individuals who lack proper communication skills and instances of misunderstandings or use of improper words may develop from time
The third significance of the contributions by Montessori on educational processes in Australia is that the child-centered type of education that was introduced by the educator helped learners to gain new research skills that they could use to carry out investigations at their free time. Elliot (2006) writes that learners who carry out personal investigations become critical thinkers and are in a position to make decisions that will have positive impact on their activities. Elliot (2006) further asserts that the personal researches by learners give them the opportunity to learn new information that they could use to improve their learning process.
Relevance of Montessori’s Work to Education in Australia Today
The works by Montessori to improve educational activities in Australia and the entire globe has some relevance to educational practices in Australia in the current times. First, Montessori advocated for fair forms of punishment during her mission to transform educational processes. Heavy punishment according to the educator generates fear among learners who may either become inactive during lessons, or may even to quit schooling due to the fear that they may undergo further punishment (Duckworth, 2008). Currently, the Australian government has put in place policies that regulate the punishment that teachers offer to learners. The law outlines that any teacher who uses excessive force to punish a child is liable for punishment by the law which does not show preference to anyone (Duckworth, 2008). The second relevance of Montessori’s work to educational activities in the US today is that educators do not have to monitor everything that learners do because, through the learner-centered strategy that the scholar highly advocated for, students can know what they ought to do to perform much better.
Montessori’s Significance to me as a Future Teacher
I feel that the activities by Montessori have some impacts on me as a future teacher would focus on teaching learners at the primary level. First, the actions by Montessori inspires me to work towards coming up with new educational investigations that would transform educational activities in the station where I will serve. Elliot (2006) suggests that instructors should be responsible for creating new ideas that would help learners and the entire institution change how to go about certain activities. My belief is that coming up with new ideas will create new perspectives of looking at things, and that through the inventions, learners and other instructors will be in a position to handle a wide array of activities.
Learners through the innovations by Montessori are able to engage in educational activities more freely which give them the opportunity to identify new ideas. The report indicates that the educator had numerous contributions to educational practices and thinking in Australia. Some of the contributions include the creation of a fair educational opportunity where every person regardless of their backgrounds or health status has the chance to attend schooling. Furthermore, the introduction of the Montessori Method of teaching improved the learners’ participation in educational activities and this has improved students’ general capabilities. I believe that the initiatives by Montessori will help me to make wise decisions once I commence my services as a primary school teacher.