What Belongs in a Montessori Primary Classroom?
From Montessori Album
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In 2011 noted Montessori researcher, Angeline S. Lillard, from the University of Virginia, submitted What Belongs in a Montessori Primary Classroom? Results from a Survey of AMI and AMS Teacher Trainers. download of draft document
This survey is a follow up on earlier research by Lillard that studied gains comparing what she termed Classical and Supplemented classrooms, this classification being done according to the level of engagement of the children with Montessori materials (being defined mainly as those described in Dr. Montessori's books). Classrooms were labelled as Classical when children had over 95% engagement on average with Montessori-designed materials, whereas Supplemented were those where children spent only around 50% of their engagement with such, and the rest with other materials.
In terms of school-year gains, those in the Classic classrooms outperformed those in the Supplemented ones
on a variety of academic and social measures. They also outperformed those in excellent conventional classrooms serving demographically similar families.
— A.Lillard, Academic Year Change in Classic vs Supplemented Montessori vs Conventional Preschool Programs, University of Virginia 2006
Lillard notes that teachers have sometimes responded that they are not sure about what the classic materials are. Such confusion probably is even greater among the grand public, and it is not a simple one to solve, given the contradictions between interpretations on Dr. Montessori's intentions by even highly trained professionals and lack of emphasis regarding Science and Geography, the offerings of even "approved" suppliers, and documents such as the "AMS School Accreditation Handbook". Add to this that AMS, and even AMI have at times "added" to the "classic" list...
All in all