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National Open Day As Montessori Celebrates

Media Release
For immediate release 13 February 2007

National Open Day As Montessori Celebrates Centenary

Hundreds of Montessori children and past pupils will gather at their local Montessori centre or school on Saturday, February 17, to celebrate 100 years of Montessori education.

Montessori early childhood centres and schools around New Zealand will be celebrating with their families, and many will have classrooms open so the public can see why Montessori education continues to flourish after 100 years.

On January 6, 1907, Dr Maria Montessori opened the first casa dei bambini, or children’s house, in the slums of Rome for 50 children aged from 2-6 years. This was the beginning of the Montessori movement. Today Montessori is the single largest educational pedagogy in the world with more than 8000 schools on six continents.
Ninety Montessori early childhood centres operate in New Zealand, with a further 34 Montessori primary classes in state, private and state-integrated schools. There are also two Montessori colleges.
About three per cent of children attending early childhood services attend a Montessori centre. More than 2700 New Zealand families choose Montessori education for their children.

National Open Day celebrations include:

Auckland
Learning Edge Montessori, Titirangi ph. 09 817-1170: A family picnic and 100 butterflies being made by the children and families.
Marshwood Montessori, St eliers ph. 09 521 5288: A “working” classroom open for visitors and a family picnic.
Land of Young Montessori, Panmure ph. 09 527 0553: Open day for past and present pupils.
Titoki Montessori School, Torbay ph. 09 473 0329: Visitors and children can interact with artefacts from 1907 – courtesy of MOTAT, enjoy 1907 children’s games, make origami peace cranes, enjoy a Punch and Judy show and participate in a celebratory release of 100 balloons.
Maru Montessori, Albany ph. 09 415 4205: A family picnic.
Eastern Suburbs Montessori, Glendowie ph. 09 575 7434: An open day and potluck centenary picnic.

Hamilton
Waikato Early Learning Centre, Tamihere ph. 07 858 3563: Dedication of a sundial and open day.

Wellington
Tawa Montessori, Tawa ph. 04 232 3738: Dedication of Peace Pole by Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast.
Wa Ora Montessori School, Naenae, Lower Hutt ph. 04 567 2377: All early childhood and primary classrooms “at work” for visitors, followed by Devonshire teas and entertainment by a jazz band.
Montessori at Berhampore, Wellington ph. 04 389 9391: Primary children will be giving visitors hands-on demonstrations of the Montessori learning activities.
Capital Montessori, Wellington ph. 04 389 2395; An open day for visitors and celebration with children.
Montessori at Tawa Primary, Tawa: An open day for visitors to observe Montessori primary classroom.
South Wellington Montessori, Berhampore ph. 04 389 2185: An open day for present and past pupils.
Montessori at Otari and Montessori at Otari Primary, Otari ph. 475 9688: An open day with classroom activities, family picnic and outdoor fun for all.
Mana Montessori, Mana ph. 234 1489: An open day with a 100 years celebratory cake.
Montessori Children’s House, Miramar ph. 388 3529: A family barbeque and outdoor fun.

Palmerston North and Wanganui
Montessori at Parnell Heights, Palmerston North ph. 06 358 3564: The planting of a commemorative tree and unveiling of plaque that by Palmerston North Mayor Heather Tanguay.
Wanganui Montessori Preschool, Wanganui ph. 06 347 8886: A family open day and planting of a commemorative native tree.
Shaken Oak Montessori, Feilding ph. 06 323 3000: An open day for present and prospective pupils and their families.

Hawke’s Bay
Jenz Montessori, Clive ph: 06 870 1000: An open day, family picnic and donkey rides.


Blenheim and Nelson
Montessori House of Children, Blenheim ph. 03 546 8768: An open day for past, present and future Montessori children and families.
Richmond Montessori Preschool, Richmond, Nelson ph. 03 544 9956: An open day with planting of a commemorative tree and family barbeque.
Nelson and Stoke Montessori School, Nelson ph. 03 546 8768: An open day and family picnic.

Christchurch
Casa dei Bambini Foundation School ph 03 385 7312: A picnic of present and past pupils at the World Peacebell site in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Courtyard Montessori School, ph. 03 332 1444: A kiwiana picnic with face painting, games etc. for the children, and the release of 100 helium-filled balloons in celebration.

Dunedin
Montessori at the Gardens ph. 03 473 7630: An open day for present, past and prospective families.
Pathways Montessori and Stepping Stones Montessori ph 03 464 0143: An open day for all families and interested people.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Maria Montessori was born in Italy on August 31, 1870, and died aged 81 in Holland on May 2, 1952. She has been described as an educator, scientist, physician, philosopher, feminist and humanitarian. She was the first early childhood educator to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In the course of her life, Dr Montessori came to believe that a radical reform of education was essential if there was to be any hope for peace in our time.
Dr Montessori was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy. In her work as a general practitioner she soon became familiar with the plight of Rome’s poorest citizens. She began postgraduate research with so-called “deficient” children who were often placed in adult asylums. Dr Montessori spent many hours working with teachers and children using ideas based on the “education of the senses” and the “education of movement”. After two years of work, her development of teaching materials and methods brought surprising results, with several “retarded” children passing the public examinations. This inspired her to continue working to find out why normal children often under-achieved.
Towards the end of 1906 Dr Montessori’s life and career took an unexpected turn when she was approached to assist with unsupervised children in the San Lorenzo quarter of Rome. This area was being renovated from slums and the owners of new buildings did not know what to do with the children aged under six. These children had been left to run about and were dirtying the walls and the courtyard, and spoiling the new gardens.
As a scientist, Dr Montessori needed the chance to test her ideas, so on January 6, 1907, she began work with 50 poor, illiterate children aged from 2-6 years. With these children, Dr Montessori was able to combine a child-centred approach to education with the materials and methods she had tested on the “retarded” children.
What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Dr Montessori’s scientific observations of these children’s almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials.
Dr Montessori trialed many materials and activities, but kept only those that the children were spontaneously and repeatedly drawn to. In this way the Montessori “method” developed and grew purely on the basis of what the children showed her about themselves. Through her observations and work Dr Montessori discovered the children’s astonishing, almost effortless ability to learn. With the opening of more Montessori schools it was soon discovered that all children, whether from economically deprived or privileged backgrounds, were capable of achieving and becoming independent learners when taught using Dr Montessori’s methods.

RECENT RESEARCH
Recent developmental research supports Dr Montessori’s conclusions. In a study recently published in Science (September 2006) and reported worldwide, researcher Dr Stoll Lillard discovered that among five-year-olds, Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for primary school in reading and maths skills than non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function”, the ability to adapt to change and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success. Montessori children also displayed better results in the social and behavioural tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and were less likely to engage in rough play. Dr Lillard concluded that: “When strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools.”

MONTESSORI IN NEW ZEALAND
One of the first New Zealanders to discover Montessori was Miss Newman, a lecturer from the Auckland Teachers’ College, who visited the first Casa dei Bambini in Rome in 1910. Montessori first emerged in New Zealand state schools, in 1911 in the Wanganui region. In 1912, 5000 copies of Margaret Simpson’s Report on the Montessori Methods of Education were purchased from Sydney, Australia, and disseminated throughout New Zealand for teachers to use as a training manual in the Montessori method. Her report was later used to train Catholic nuns. Montessori then spread in the mid-1920s in many Roman Catholic schools, lasting through the Great Depression and the onset of World War II. After a lull, the New Zealand Montessori movement was reinvigorated in the 1970s. This second wave of Montessori was started by a group of parents who established New Plymouth Montessori Preschool in 1976. The following year Montessori preschools opened in Auckland and Wellington. By 1985 there were 13 Montessori early childhood centres in New Zealand.
The first Montessori primary, Wa Ora Montessori School, opened in Naenae in 1988, and the first Montessori primary class to open in a state school was at Otari Primary School, Wellington, in 1992. The first Montessori college opened in Wellington in 2002.


Ends

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