Thursday, December 10, 2009
The classroom environment
The design and maintenance of the classroom environment is the most important task of a Montessori teacher. It is a special place, carefully prepared to encourage the children to "reveal their true and normalized selves" (Standing) and must be maintained with a zeal bordering on obsession. For example, constant vigilance must be held to ensure the classroom remains clean and orderly, and if any of the materials are broken or have pieces missing they must be removed from the shelf immediately and repaired or replaced. Dr. Montessori compares the teacher's scrupulous care of the environment to that of housewives of the twentieth century. "In our countries where each wife has her own home, the wife tries to make the home as attractive as possible for herself and her husband. Instead of giving her whole attention to him, she gives much also to the house, so as to make surroundings in which a normal and constructive life can flourish" (Montessori). In a classroom that is kept clean and tidy, with all the equipment in excellent condition, the teacher not only shows her love for the children and concern for their progress, but ensure herself an environment in which she can easily observe them. If the teacher is continuously interrupted during class time because of less than meticulous preparation, she may miss an important observation opportunity.