Maria Montessori vs. Jean Piaget’s Theory

2 February 2017

Maria Montessori’s Theory Vs. Jean Piaget’s Theory Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget are two educational philosophers whose theories are still being used and influence today’s educational system.

Their theories and methods were revolutionary for their times, but they came to be greatly respected. Both of these theorist developed their own stages of child development and were able to base education on these stages. Although in many ways Piaget and Montessori were very similar in their thinking they were also very different in their teaching approaches.Piaget and Montessori are two main players in the early childhood education field and based most of their ideas on their observations of children. Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Italy. She was born to a conservative family and decided that when she finished secondary school she would study science. This was very uncommon amongst women of her time and she was met with a lot of resistance from colleagues, but this never influenced her decisions or her educational path.

Montessori later decided she would change her direction and become a medical doctor.She was the first woman in Italy to graduate medical school. Once graduating medical school Maria Montessori never practiced medicine, but began to study and observe the young children that were in the hospital. From these observations she began to develop her own theories of child development, leading her into the education field. Montessori’s observations lead her to decide that the children were not the problem, but the problem was the adults in the learning environment and the environment itself. In 1907 Maria Montessori was invited to open her own school in the slums of Rome, Casa dei Bambini.The purpose of this school was to keep the children of workers under control, rather than them being unsupervised and running around the slums.

The school was the first of many schools that would later open and be based on the Montessori methods. Maria believed that children need a learning environment that promotes independence and less adult involvement. In order for the child to be independent the tools and materials must be accessible, reachable, and child-sized in order for the child to be completely independent from adult assistance.At this time there was no market for child-sized tools and materials, therefore, Maria had to make her own tools for the children. Maria Montessori felt that classrooms should be orderly with a label and place for everything this will help the children to learn responsibility for returning things to the rightful place. Maria felt that if adults continue to serve children and clean up after them the children will never learn to be completely independent of adult interference. Maria developed three stages of children’s development based on her knowledge and observations.

The first stage is the stage of the ‘absorbent mind’, which is from birth to 6 years of age. This stage is when the child is exploring his/her environment, absorbing information, and creating their concepts of reality. The second stage is from 6 to 12 years of age; this is when the child is using skills learned in the first stage. During this stage the child is reinforcing and expanding the skills learned in the previous stage. Maria’s final stage of child development is from 12 to 18 years of age. This is when the adolescent comprehends social roles and trying to find their place in society.Jean Piaget was born in 1896 I Switzerland.

Jean Piaget was a scientist at a very early age and published his work as early as the age of eleven. Jean spent his life researching how children arrive at what they learn. Most of his research and observation is based on his own children. Piaget study Maria Montessori’s theories and work with childhood education. Although Piaget later developed his own stages of children development he did so by building upon Maria Montessori’s idea that meaningful work is important to a child’s development. Piaget felt that the child’s curiosity is what drives learning.Children, according to Piaget, give meaning to places, people, and objects and this helps them explain themselves without adults dictating to them.

Piaget’s stages of child development begin with the sensorimotor stage that is from birth to 18 months. At this stage in an infant’s life they rely on senses and physical activities to learn about the world around them. The children need to be able to explore objects in their environment by touching, pulling, pushing, and exploring with their mouths without being in danger of getting injured. The second stage is the pre-operational stage, which the child is completely egocentric.At this point an object’s relevance is based on its relationship to the child. The third stage is the concrete operational when the child can begin to reverse thoughts. The child acknowledges that objects exist whether they are there or not.

The final stage is the formal operational stage this is when the child begins to think logically and use abstract reasoning. The objective of Piaget’s work is to explore ways in which children grow and learn about the world around them. Once the child learns about the world around them they are able to interact with other children or adults within their world.Montessori and Piaget can agree on many ideas and theories, but there are sine major differences between the two theorists. They both believe that children learn from activity, however in a Montessori classroom the children choose their own activities. In a Piagetian classroom they are instructed by a teacher to do an activity and finish it within a certain time frame. Piaget would stress routine and the importance of a teacher-based instruction, whereas, Montessori felt the teacher was just there to merely observe, demonstrate, and facilitate learning.

Montessori allowed children to decide what they work on and for how long, meanwhile, Piaget stressed the importance of beginning a task at a certain time and finishing it in a timely fashion that sticks to the daily routine. That is one major difference in their teaching styles. In Piaget’s classroom the whole class has a designated naptime and all must comply with it. Montessori allows her students time to nap, but doesn’t require it, because the cribs and nap supplies are accessible to all children they may choose to nap when they feel they need it.In a Montessori classroom the teacher would plan out lessons but observe the class and make materials available to the students that would facilitate their learning. In a Piagetian classroom the teacher would observe the class and set a task that the class is physically and mentally ready for, however, if the task is difficult the more involved the teacher must be. Montessori also mixed all age groups together in one classroom and the classrooms were open and airy as opposed to a Piaget classroom that would be separated by age groups and 4 walls.

We discussed some of the differences between Piaget and Montessori but being that Piaget studied Montessori they have a lot of similarities also. Montessori and Piaget both studied science and developed stages of a child’s development based on their work and observations. Although their stages of development were different the first stage in each of their stages is very similar. Both believed that during this stage in a child’s life they need to explore their environment to build sensory motor skills.Montessori and Piaget both put a great emphasis on the environment in which the child learns and both have theories on how this environment should look and be set up. If you were to read a class a book about farm animals both Montessori and Piaget agree that you should then take your class to a farm so they can see, smell, and touch these animals. Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have both had a major impact on early childhood education.

Montessori’s ideas effect all childhood education programs not just the Montessori ones. Schools throughout the world still study these two theorist and develop schools and programs based on their work.

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