Magazine article Montessori Life

The Prepared Environment beyond Early Childhood

Magazine article Montessori Life

The Prepared Environment beyond Early Childhood

Article excerpt

Young people say, "I want some control over my life, I want to show the world that I can be responsible." Most learning environments, however, have little confidence in the skills of young people, and they tend to tell them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

-Elisabeth Coe, in Montessori in Contemporary American Culture

Montessori offers us the concept of the "prepared environment," embedded in the four planes of development. That environment takes a different form as the child develops, from infancy to adulthood, and is meant to meet the needs of the individual, whose task is to develop a unique self within a supportive community. For Montessori, environment "can help or hinder, but it can never create....The origins of development lie within." (The Montessori Method, 1964, p.105) Thus, in a prepared environment, the developing young person may be free to craft an authentic self.

In this issue, the reader is urged to consider the nature of "environment" when reading a father's reflections on the effects of parental choices on children's behavior (page 66), one teacher's ruminations on his experiences in a public Montessori school (page 30), another teacher's thoughts on the challenges and possibilities of the third plane (page 46), and also an examination of the development of self-knowledge through involvements in the world of the senses (page 42). …

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