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Pedagogical compendium

Anamaria Zrinyi & Jolinde Blaak

International Class 2016- 2017
Driestar Educatief, Gouda, Netherlands

Table of Contents
General information ................................................................................ 3
Who is she? ............................................................................................................. 3
When did she live? .................................................................................................. 3
Where did she live? ...............................................................................................3
Her upbringing and educational career...........................................3
What was important in her socialization? .4
Topic connected to her ideas .5

Theoretical outline ................................................................................... 6

What does every teacher need to know about this topic? ...................................... 6
How can it be applied in educational settings? ....................................................... 7
Why would you advise the implementation of this as a Christian teacher? ..8

Practical application ..........................................................................9

How can you introduce it in your classroom? 9
Teaching practice .10

Ideal of Christian teacher ................................................................11

Pedagogical statement .................................12
Bibliography .................14

General information
Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 May 6, 1952) was the first woman in Italy
to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and
anthropology, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children
naturally learn. Montessori was a pioneer of theories in early childhood education,
which are still implemented in Montessori schools all over the globe. She believed
that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank
slate" waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us
raising and educating children are in these areas:

Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environments for the child
Observing the child living freely in this environment
Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his
or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in the provincial town of
Chiaravalle, Italy, to middle-class, well-educated parents. Her father, Alessandro
Montessori, 33 years old at the time, was an official of the Ministry of Finance
working in the local state-run tobacco factory. Her mother, Renilde Stoppani, 25
years old, was well educated for the times and was the great-niece of Italian geologist
and paleontologist Antonio Stoppani.
The Montessori family moved to Florence in 1873 and then to Rome in 1875
because of her father's work. Montessori entered a public elementary school at the
age of 6 in 1876. At the age of 13, Montessori entered an all-boys technical institute
to prepare for a career in engineering, Regia Scuola Tecnica Michelangelo
Buonarroti, she graduated in 1886 with good grades and examination results. That
year, at the age of 16, she continued at the technical institute Regio Istituto Tecnico
Leonardo da Vinci.
By the time she graduated in 1890 at the age of 20, with a certificate in physics
mathematics, she had decided to study medicine instead, an even more unlikely
pursuit given cultural norms at the time. She applied to the University of Romes
medical program, but was rejected. Maria took additional courses to better prepare
her for entrance to the medical school and persevered. With great effort she gained
admittance, opening the door a bit wider for future women in the field. Facing her
father's resistance but armed with her mother's support, Montessori went on to

graduate with high honors from the medical school of the University of Rome in
On 31 March 1898, her only child a son named Mario Montessori (March 31,
1898 1982) was born. Mario Montessori was the result of a love affair with
Giuseppe Montesano, a fellow doctor who was co-director with her of the
Orthophrenic School of Rome. If Montessori married, she would be expected to
cease working professionally; instead of getting married, Montessori decided to
continue her work and studies. As the father of her child fell in love and subsequently
married, Montessori was left feeling betrayed and decided to leave the university
hospital and place her son into foster care with a family living in the countryside
opting to miss the first few years of his life. She would later be reunited with her son
in his teenage years, where he proved to be a great assistant in her research.
After graduating, Dr. Maria Montessori worked in a psychiatric clinic for
unfortunate children. The children were placed in a bare room. It was observed that
children after their meals would throw food on the floor and play with them. It was
through Montessoris compassion and intelligence that she sought a solution to help
the children. She observed that these children had no toys to manipulate or use their
hands on. It was then that she decided that there had to be more than medicine to be
able to these children.
While teaching at her medical-school alma mater, Montessori treated many poor
and working-class children who attended the free clinics there. During that time, she
observed that intrinsic intelligence was present in children of all socio-economic
backgrounds. She also developed an interest in education, attending classes on
pedagogy and immersing herself in educational theory. Her studies led her to
observe, and call into question, the prevailing methods of teaching children with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The opportunity to improve on these methods came in 1900, when she became
the director of the Orthophrenic School, a "medico-pedagogical institute" for
training teachers in educating mentally disabled children. Maria approached the task
scientifically, carefully observing and experimenting to learn which teaching
methods worked best. There she began to extensively research early childhood
development and education. Montessori began to conceptualize her own method of
applying their educational theories, which she tested through hands-on scientific
observation of students at the Orthophrenic School. Montessori found the resulting
improvement in students' development remarkable. She spread her research findings

in speeches throughout Europe, also using her platform to advocate for women's and
children's rights.
Montessori's theory and philosophy of education were initially heavily influenced
by the work of Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, douard Sguin, Friedrich Frbel,
and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, all of whom emphasized sensory exploration and
manipulatives. Montessori's first work with mentally disabled children, at the
Orthophrenic School in 19001901, used the methods of Itard and Seguin, training
children in physical activities such as walking and the use of a spoon, training their
senses by exposure to sights, smells, and tactile experiences, and introducing letters
in tactile form. These activities developed into the Montessori "Sensorial" materials.
In 1907 Maria accepted a new challenge to open a childcare center in a poor
inner-city district. This became the first Casa dei Bambini, a quality learning
environment for young children. Working with non-disabled children in the Casa
dei Bambini, Montessori began to develop her own pedagogy. The essential
elements of her educational theory emerged from this work, described in The
Montessori Method in 1912 and in The Discovery of the Child in 1948. Her method
was founded on the observation of children at liberty to act freely in an environment
prepared to meet their needs. Montessori came to the conclusion that the children's
spontaneous activity in this environment revealed an internal program of
development, and that the appropriate role of the educator was to remove obstacles
to this natural development and provide opportunities for it to proceed and flourish.
Montessori education is fundamentally a model of human development, and an
educational approach based on that model. The model has two basic principles. First,
children and developing adults engage in psychological self-construction by means
of interaction with their environments. Second, children, especially under the age of
six, have an innate path of psychological development. Based on her observations,
Montessori believed that children who are at liberty to choose and act freely within
an environment prepared according to her model would act spontaneously for
optimal development.
Montessori's education method called for free activity within a "prepared
environment", meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human
characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the
individual personalities of each child. The function of the environment is to help and
allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner
psychological directives. In addition to offering access to the Montessori materials

appropriate to the age of the children, the environment should exhibit the following

An arrangement that facilitates movement and activity

Beauty and harmony, cleanliness of environment
Construction in proportion to the child and her/his needs
Limitation of materials, so that only material that supports the child's
development is included
Nature in the classroom and outside of the classroom

Before elaborating any system of education, we must therefore create a

favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a childs natural gifts.
All that is needed is to remove the obstacles. And this should be the basis of, and
point of departure for, all future education. The first thing to be done, therefore, is
to discover the true nature of a child and then assist him in his normal development.
(Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, translated by M. Joseph Costelloe,
Because of her work in favor to all children either disabled or not, I believe that
her theory of education is mostly connected to the topic of education for all. As you
can read in a quote translated from one of her books, she really did want every child
to have the opportunity to learn and I think that she also valued education as a right
for everyone even if the child is from a poor or rich family.

Theoretical outline
What does every teacher need to know about this topic?
Of course, at first, why it is important to have education for all. Nelson Mandela
spoke his famous sentence: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can
use to change the world. Its very important that all children (and also adults) can
have education. Its the base of our society. By education you can shape people, they
get knowledge thats necessary in society and important norms and values that
makes you the person you are.
Education for all is a huge subject, and you can focus on it in different ways. For
example, education for all worldwide, but also in one classroom. We will first say

something about it in a worldwide context. The United Nations show us, how
important it is to have worldwide education for all. Because of the many children
who are not able to go to school, they set up some goals. The goals are set up
especially by UNESCO and the World Bank Group. In short this are the goals:
Expand early childhood care and education
Provide free and compulsory primary education for all
Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
Increase adult literacy
Achieve gender parity
Improve the quality of education
189 countries of all over the world signed in the year 2000 to reach this goals in
2015. Only a third of the countries made it reality. We see that not each goal is
reached, but there are really things that improved. Anyhow, education for all is still
a goal for many countries.
What many people do not know, is that education for all is also a goal for the
Netherlands. Even the principal of our teaching practice school did not know. Facts
show us that there are 250.000 people in the Netherlands who cant read and write
at all, and 2.5 million people who can read and write in a very low level. Maybe,
poor countries need the goal education for all more, also in the Netherlands its
important to have education for all.
And in the classroom, why is it sometimes for teachers difficult to make sure that
every pupil gets good education? Van Brummelen tells us that it is difficult because
a teacher has to deal with much diversity in a classroom. For example the religious
diversity. But also the following diversities:
Social and emotional diversity
Intellectual diversity
Cultural diversity
Communication diversity
Economic diversity

Because of this it can be very difficult for a teacher to educate all pupils in his
class in a right way. We asked a teacher if he is able to give enough attention to all
his students. This was his answer:
The answer is no. To be honest, the answer is no. You could say positive things,
but its impossible. I have a class with 32 students. Its impossible to pay attention
to every individual student, because my room is already completely filled. Of course
you try to pay attention, I try to learn the names as fast as possible, and so I can say
everybodys name. But to give feedback, for example, on an individual level, its
impossible, it would take two days. That doesnt work. And my classes are very big
this year, I have a class of 14 and 20, so thats very small, but then the average of
my other classes is 28. And you only see them once a week, thats it, this all sounds
very negative. But I also have my mentor class and thats my special class and I have
to take care for them and I get time to talk with them.
How can we applicate education for all in educational settings? As you see, its
not easy. I think, in many cultural settings, theres a big responsibility by the
government. For example in some poor countries in Africa, people do have so less
money that its impossible for their children to go to school. The government says
that school is free, but in fact school is not free at all. The books and uniforms costs
a lot of money. This problem is too big to solve it now, on your own. Although,
when a government really want make sure that everyone gets education, it will make
the country better. Also in other cultural settings, for example the Netherlands, the
government has much influence on the education. Although, also a teacher has a big
influence. He or she has to try to give as much as possible attentions to each pupil.
We asked a teacher how he deals with children with a disorder or difficult behavior.
His answer:
When youre explaining things you can of course ask them if they understand it,
if they pick it up. For example, with dyslexia you see that they get extra time for a
test, then they have time to do their work and to work on that. There are of course a
lot of problems and you try to help persons, but sometimes it doesnt work. I have
now a student in first class, I only saw him for three weeks, but Im almost sure that
he will fail, because hes so busy and I have to warn him so often during the lessons.
And this morning they had to do a short review and he had to learn the books of the
Bible and he didnt fill anything. Maybe hes intellectual enough, but in his own way
of being doesnt help him in this way. And thats a pity in our system, because for
him it would be good every morning to run for an hour and then go to school, but

thats not the way our system works. Theres also a team here at school, who
supports those students. So for example, if you have ADHD then people will support
you and give you tips and tricks how to deal with them. So they offer support, but
thats not for the teachers.
So, try and do as much as you can. Our subject is important for both Christian
and non-Christian teachers. But I think, as a Christian teacher you have even more
responsibility to the children. You have to tell them about God, show them his love,
and teach the children Christian norms and values. So, therefore its really important
for all children to have education! Jesus said: let the children come to me and dont
forbid them. Thats a lesson for the Christian teacher. Also when its hard to teach
all children.

Practical application
How can you introduce education for all in your classroom? Thats not easy to
say. It can be very different in all kind of cultures. First, you have to look to a child
as a creature of God. God has made him or her. That make them valuable.
All children have the rights to go to school. Also when its hard to teach the child.
Maybe because of his IQ, maybe because of his behavior. We asked a teacher how
we can teach all children in a classroom. He answered: Its very hard to, and it
doesnt matter if its a bigger class or a smaller class, because its always hard to
know if they really understand and what do they pick up. You can ask, for example,
a student to explain it to the others and then you can hear that he understood it, and
then the others hear it for a second time as well. You can ask the others to add
something, did he tell everything?, did he say it correct?, that kind of things. This is
a small option within the lesson, but you can also give a test or something like that,
then you can see if they really understood and what they picked up from your lesson.
In this case, we also can learn from Maria Montessori. She really wanted
education for all. Also the poor children were welcome in her class and she found
out that it did not depend on your origin whether your intelligence is low or high.
One of her statements was also: construction in proportion to the child and her/his
needs. She taught us that we get the best image of a child when we start with

During teaching practice we tried using everything we learned, not only about
education for all, but Montessoris theories also. We prepared activities in which
every pupil from the classroom could participate, so then it was accessible for
everyone no matter what age, religion, female or male, rich or poor. However to be
able to do so, we observed the students on our first day to learn what they know and
also what methods could we use to make the learning process easier for them.
In the secondary school we had the opportunity to do two kinds of activities both
involving knowledge about Romania. One of them was mostly theoretical with
information about the country, but with the use of pictures the students could pick
up the information easier. Also by asking them two questions at the end of the lesson
I could get feedback on what they found most interesting and surprising, this way I
found out what were their interests and I did my second activity in connection with
this information. They also could ask questions about the stories they hear and
pictures they saw and I tried answering them as best as possible.
The second activity was more interactive, because it was a quiz about Romania.
The best feedback I got from the teachers, because every teacher that supervised out
practice liked this activity better and some even asked for the presentation for further
use. It only had ten questions about the country where they could choose out of two
or more options as the answer. After each question I tried to listen to more than one
answer to see how they think. Then I showed them the right answer and some were
disappointed, but many pupils were happy that they guessed right. We even had
debates with one of the students who didnt agree with one of the answers and I
found this very important, because I could see that he was actually paying attention.
In primary school it was tougher to choose activities that fit in the guidelines we
set for ourselves because of the language barrier. The pupils were much younger and
I didnt speak Dutch, meaning that we needed more time for translations than the
activity itself. One of the activities was connected to drawing, and seeing the
differences between Romania and Netherlands. We prepared a presentation with a
lot of pictures about the countries and information/stories also, this way the pupils
could see and understand better the contrast but the similarities too between the two
countries. After this they could draw what they noticed and what stroke them the
most, what did they find as the biggest difference. This way we could also get
feedback on what were they interested about and if they understand everything. This
activity is also fit for anyone, everyone could participate.


The last activity was connected to theologizing with children and we chose the
passage from Mark 10: 13-16. We actually chose these verses, because I wanted to
teach them a song (Jzus szeret minden kicsi gyereket = Jezus houdt van alle kleine
kinderen) and I believe that these passages are the ones which are very closely
related to the song. I believe this activity was also fit for everyone, no matter what
age, race, and religion they have.
Anamaria Zrinyi: My ideal Christian teacher would be one with a lot of faith,
kind, helpful, but someone who will listen to your remarks and politely answer even
though it collides with his/her beliefs. It has to be someone who is an inspiration for
her pupils and not only in class, but in her style of living also. Their pedagogy should
be light, easy-going, without pressure on the children to take her/him word for word.
She/he has to have patience on explaining the segments from the Bible on such way
that each one of the students will understand, accept and even use in life. The teacher
cant be all word, but no act, meaning that she/he too has to live that way that she/he
teaches others to do. Their goal should be teaching kids to have faith in something
bigger and better than humanity, even though they cant see Him, they can learn and
hear about His works and teachings. If a child finds himself in a bad incident, the
teacher should lead him towards the right path through prayer and reading the Bible.
And finally but its the most important: she/he has to love and respect the pupils,
because with love their relationship will be strong and it will be easier to
communicate and teach.
Jolinde Blaak: My ideal about teaching. For me its very important to love the
children, teach them how to love each other and let them amaze the world around. I
want to see the children. Not only their outside, but especially, whats behind? But
the most important is to learn them who God is and who Jesus wants to be for them.
I want to be a teacher with structure, I want to be open to the children and let them
feeling save and accepted. I hope that my children will say: yes, today I may go to
school again!




Harro van Brummelen: Walking with God in the Classroom (Christian approaches
to teaching and learning), 2009, third edition