Diversity is an important aspect of life. In our adult lives, we are immersed in diversity every day, responding to diversity in accordance to the basic rules of our society. Montessori education developed out of a need to educate children who were once thought a burden for the educational system, creating order and enthusiasm out of diversity and – which is equally important – adversity.
During the development of the Montessori method, Maria Montessori spent years working exclusively with children who had special mental and physical needs. At the time, the popular thought was that such children were beyond hope of a traditional education. But through the principles of Montessori, it became clear that many children simply needed respect, structure, and the ability to express their motivations differently. Today, the structure embodied by Montessori learning is able to bridge the gap between exceptional children and those with mental or physical limitations. In many ways, Montessori learning is more beneficial to special needs children than traditional education systems.
Surprisingly, there is a greater degree of racial diversity in Montessori schools than may be found in most public school systems. While the studies were made in regards to public Montessori education, the results indicated that minorities comprised half or more of the student body in Montessori classrooms. With minorities in general and African-Americans in specific being represented by 5 percent and 11 percent higher enrollment respectively than is found in corresponding traditional school systems. In the Montessori classroom, racial diversity is not thought of as a ratio to be maintained, but as the normal status quo of the world we live in.
Frames in Social Situations
“Frames” are a way to categorize social structures and situations. These frames regulate how we react in certain situations, with well defined counterparts in Montessori classrooms. For example, the basic principles of Montessori include responsibility and respect, which are key frames in classroom and adult social life. By acquainting children with these concepts at an early age, it is easier for them to feel comfortable in similar situations when they have matured. The key frames addressed in daily Montessori education include:
- Classroom Frames
- Activity Frames
- Student-Teacher Frames
- Child-Child Frames
Montessori and Diversity
Interaction and and respect are primary components of Montessori learning. These minimize the barriers of diverse situations, and maximize the child’s ability to adapt to diverse stimuli. Rather than learning to see the differences between racial groups, or mental and physical abilities, children are taught to find the advantages available to them when the walls of compartmentalization have been removed.
Montessori was developed under diverse conditions, and today it embraces diversity as a fundamental, pervasive part of the world we live in. It is not so much the Montessori tries to blur the line of diversity as it is that Montessori learning teaches us to embrace diversity as simply another facet of the natural world we live in.
The Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus embraces diversity and teaching its students how to interact and respect with individuals or situations that are different than they are used to. Parents and students alike are invited to visit our school and tour a classroom to see the Montessori Method firsthand. Contact us today!