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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Concluding Remarks

Concluding Remarks.

1. The system devised by Dr. Montessori is the most forward movement in infant education since the time of Froebel.

2. All educationists have preached liberty for the child—Dr. Montessori practises it.

3. In all schools where the method has had a fair trial, the most astonishing results have followed. Children of 4 and 5 learn to write and to read in a few weeks without any mental strain whatever.

4. Not only in writing and reading, but in all subjects where the Montessori principle is rightly applied, the children learn without strain or weariness. Instead of weariness there is interest, alertness, and joy in doing.

5. In the Italian schools in the slum quarters the physical effects of this joyousness in the work are very marked. The children have gained it page 45 weight, and present a much more healthy appearance than formerly. Dr. Montessori attributes this improved physical appearance and health to the joy found in the work. Joy, according to this Italian physician and educator, is a great health-giver.

6. People from all parts of the earth flock to Rome to see the system in operation, and Montessori schools are springing up everywhere.

7. Most of the great educational centres of the world sent representatives to Rome in January of this year to study the system on the spot, with a view to introducing it into the schools of the various countries.

8. The Montessori system makes for more independence and self-reliance on the part of the pupil and gives scope for resource and originality.

9. One often hears that the great danger of the present day is the lack of individual character in our young people. While we treat children in the mass, in large classes, as puppets instead of living, self-active individuals, this danger will remain. Enfranchise the child, treat him as an individual, let him do his own growing, as is done in the Montessori schools, and this danger will disappear.

The Indoor Kindergarten Circle.

The Indoor Kindergarten Circle.

10. Based as it is on liberty, the Montessori system is particularly well suited to the educational needs of a free, democratic country like Australia, where self-reliance, individuality, resource, originality, and freshness of thought are qualities much to be desired in the future citizens.

11. If the Montessori system is introduced, I am firmly of opinion that the question of retardation will very largely disappear from our schools.

12. The slow child will always be with us; but the slow child has rights as well as the quick, and these rights the Montessori method recognises. The slow child progresses at his own rate instead of being over-strained and discouraged in the vain attempt to keep up with the naturally quick children of the class. Many of the world's greatest geniuses have been dull and slow at school, and the history of such men proves that the educational race is not always to the swift.

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13. The clever child also progresses at his own pace. He is not held back for his slower brethren.

14. I am fully convinced that the Montessori method, rightly applied, will very considerably shorten the period of learning to read and to write and will do away with the drudgery and strain now associated with the teaching and learning of these subjects. Under this method the normal child will have overcome all the main difficulties of reading, writing, dictation, and elementary number work by the time he reaches 7 years of age.

15. In the one-teacher schools of the State the Montessori system will prove to be the solution of many difficulties. By it the teacher will be able to keep all children from the little ones just entering school to the most advanced pupils busily and profitably employed.

Open Air and Sunlight.

Open Air and Sunlight.

16. If introduced into our schools at all, the Montessori system should be introduced systematically. For its adequate working, the following would, I think, be necessary:—
  • Revised furniture.
  • One set of Montessori material for each school.
  • Smaller classes—say an average of thirty-five.
  • Larger classrooms and more floor space.
  • The mistress of a department free from a class.
  • Abolition of class work, and substitution of individual teaching.
  • More open air schools and classes.
  • More liberty for every teacher.
Proper provision for the instruction of teachers in the theory and practice by—
(a)Summer schools.
(b)Observation schools.
(c)Lectures at suitable centres in each inspector's district.

The appointment of an Organising Officer to put the whole matter on a proper basis.

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17. The main benefits that would follow the systematic introduction of the Montessori system are:—
(a)The saving of half the time now given to reading and writing.
(b)A sounder and more definite training of the senses.
(c)Increased independence and self-reliance.
(d)Improved health and physique.
(e)A considerable diminution in the number of retarded children.

18. The State of New South Wales is far ahead of most other places in the matter of its Kindergartens, and much benefit has followed the recognition of systematic kindergarten as a part of the State education. The Montessori system is a step still further in advance, and will, I feel sure, be welcomed by all kindergartners, infant teachers, and small school teachers. Introduced with a proper understanding of the principle, and by way of evolution, not revolution, the Montessori system will bring about results with us quite as wonderful as those of Rome and other places. I would again urge, however, that its introduction should be systematic.

Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Goverment Printer.—1914.