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Perceptions of Childhood - Essay Example

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The inclusive world of the twenty-first century expects practitioners be equipped to provide for diversity in multifaceted ways - learning styles, special needs, cultural disparity, or racial distinctions - with didactic approaches specifically adapted to the intricate personality traits of individual children (Allison, J, Jenks, C, & Prout, A 1998:6)…
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Perceptions of Childhood
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Download file to see previous pages The unique criteria of modern early years education gives the impression of being built powerfully on insights and practices honed from the legacy of the Montessori system.
Toward the end of the 19th century Maria Montessori built on the work of Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguine to develop just such an individualized child-centered approach to education (Kramer, R. 1988:60). Maria created a program for young children in the slums of Rome which became known as the Montessori Method. The incisive outlook that Dr. Montessori brought to early childhood education was her conviction that the education of each child must start from inside the inimitable little person, and that the child must be left free to learn for itself by selecting and using resources with the least amount of adult intrusion for as long as the child is absorbed in the work at hand (Kramer, R. 1988:113).
Montessori transformed the role of the educator from a simple trainer to an engaged and attentive guide of children's independent development through the promotion of autonomous activities appropriate to the requirements of each child in the secure setting of the classroom. The rudiments of the Montessori Method and variations of Montessori resources are employed broadly today in early childhood programs world-wide (Kramer, R. 1988:16). Montessori passed on enduring insight into and deep appreciation for the natural aptitude latent in every small person when cultivated judiciously.
Public schooling in the wake of the Industrial Revolution centered on passive models for children's learning: the school as a factory and the child as a blank slate. Children were the raw material to be formed forthwith into productive citizens (Lillard, A.S. 2005:7). In the Italy of Maria Montessori's era the family and its social status was the primary determinant of a child's education and profession. The prospects for a young girl of that era were even more firmly determined by convention. A married woman, as wife and mother, was expected first and foremost to be the underlying nucleus in the Italian family (Gutek, G.L.2004:2).
Maria's childhood experience in a local primary school adhered to the established practice of a teacher feeding information to the children through dictation, with the child repeating back material learned by rote memory. Italian primary schools generally included all the subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography, in a single book. Generally, the educator required the child to stand at attention and correctly repeat responses tediously committed to memory from the text (Gutek, G.L.2004:3).
In spite of Italy's 19th-century gender norms, at the age of thirteen in 1883, Maria Montessori opted to study engineering in a state technical school, though by 1890 she had decided to leave engineering to go into medicine (Kramer, R. 1988:34). Through quite resolute persistence she secured admission to the University of Rome as a student of physics, mathematics, and the natural sciences, and passed her final examination with an outstanding grade of eight out of ten points which made her academically eligible to study to be a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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