Although a range of practices exists under the name "Montessori", the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:
In addition, many Montessori schools design their programs with reference to Montessori's model of human development from her published works, and use pedagogy, lessons, and materials introduced in teacher training derived from courses presented by Montessori during her lifetime.
In celebration of Montessori Education Week, each classroom level (PS, LE, UE, and MS) will be Montessori Mythbusters! Each level selected a myth about Montessori schools and created a child-sized display to debunk the myth and explain what Montessori schools are really like.
Preschool (PS) students debunked the Montessori myth that "children aren't allowed to play in Montessori schools." Maria Montessori herself said that "Play is the work of the child." What are children doing when they play? They are practicing, experimenting, and discovering. They practice stacking the pink tower. They experiment with different configurations for the cubes. They discover cause & effect, relationships in dimension, and lessons in gravity.
Lower Elementary (LE) students debunked a two-sided Montessori myth that "Montessori is too rigid/Montessori is too permissive." The Montessori Method provides children with freedom within limits and is based on respect and a true understanding of child development. If the freedom is used improperly or without respect, the limits are tightened, and vice versa.
Upper Elementary (UE) students debunked the two-sided Montessori myth that "Montessori classrooms are too structured/unstructured." The Montessori classroom is very structured, but that structure is quite different from a traditional school. The Montessori classroom, with its prepared activities and trained adults, is structured to promote the child's independence, choice-making, and personal responsibility in the natural process of human development. Over time, it builds internal structure in the children, as opposed to relying on imposed structure from the adult.
Middle School (MS) students debunked the myth that "Montessori is only appropriate for young children." Maria Montessori observed that the plane of development from age 12-15 is a particularly vulnerable one, similar in many ways to the period from infancy to age three. Her observations, together with the program she envisioned to meet the needs of adolescents, have been supported by current research. Students in Montessori middle schools report more positive motivation and experience than a matched sample of students from traditional middle schools. A number of other findings confirmed that the Montessori schools created a more positive community for early adolescent education.
After School Care students debunked the following myth: "If Montessori is so great, why aren't former Montessori students better known?" Here are a few well-known people who remember their Montessori school connections and consider their experiences vital to their success: Prince William and Prince Harry (future heirs to the British monarchy), Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), Larry Page and Sergei Brin (founders of Google), Anne Frank, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), Taylor Swift (singer/songwriter), Anne Hathaway (actress), David Blaine (magician), and Julia Child (cook and writer).
Montessori schools are focused on helping children become self-directed individuals, who can, and do, make a different in their families, their communities, and in their world - famous or not. And that's not a myth.