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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Cost of the Montessori Material

Cost of the Montessori Material.

One set of Montessori material would be sufficient for any school, large or small. Each child will not be using the same piece of apparatus at the same time, as in class work. It is probable that a larger supply of cardboard letters than that already with the apparatus will be necessary, but this is a matter that could be easily arranged. The cost therefore for material, when wholesale price is considered, would probably not exceed the sum of £6 or £7 for each school.

The mere introduction of the Montessori material will not, however, make a Montessori school. Unless the teacher has grasped the principle underlying the system, the introduction of the material is not likely to be of much use. Steps should therefore be taken to make teachers acquainted with the Montessori principle and with the correct method of using the material. This might be done by means of—
(a)Summer schools such as are now held in music and art.
(b)The establishment of a Montessori Observation School or Schools where country teachers and others might be permitted to attend for a period of continuous observation.
(c)Lectures and demonstrations in various centres in each inspector's district.

As a preparation for any of the above I would strongly urge that Dr. Montessori's book, "The Montessori Method," be supplied to all schools. The retail price of the book is 9s., but the wholesale price would probably be much less. In large departments where there are several teachers, two or three copies might be given.

page 42

I am optimistic enough to believe that the teachers of New South Wales, provided they are given the same freedom in this as in other things, will not be long in grasping the Montessori idea of self-education through liberty. Experienced mistresses and teachers would learn much from a week or two of observation in a Montessori school. With young, inexperienced teachers, only a lengthened period of training could give the right understanding and application of the method.

In no case should material be supplied to a school until the teacher has shown his or her fitness by sympathy with the method and by attendance at lectures, observation school, or summer school.

In the new schools constantly being erected, and in the others where renovations are being made, I would urge the introduction of the revised furniture mentioned in another part of this report. If this is done a considerable saving will be effected. Take, for example, an Infant School with seating accommodation for 200 children. The cost of furnishing such a school with modern desks would be not less than £250. If furnished with the tables and chairs such as I have suggested, the cost would probably not exceed £150.

In the matter of equipment and material the Montessori schools will not cost the State any more than the present schools cost it. The chief expense will lie in the matter of larger classrooms; and here I think the increased benefit to the children's health arising from more air and room in which to move and grow will more than justify the expenditure.