Devereux School bases its teaching methods on the philosophies developed by Maria Montessori. We feel we have taken the best of Montessori and combined it with the best of our experience.
For parents interested in learning about the Montessori philosophy, the following excerpts are taken from the Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Several books written by, and about Maria Montessori are also available at your local library or online.
Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)
An Italian educator and physician, Maria Montessori was best known for developing the Montessori method of teaching young children. She introduced the method in Rome in 1907, and it has since spread through the world. The Montessori method stresses the development of initiative and self-reliance by permitting children to do by themselves the things that interest them, within disciplined limits.
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
In 1894, Montessori became the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She joined the medical staff at the University of Rome psychiatric clinic and soon became interested in the education of children with mental retardation. She gradually became convinced that children with mental retardation were much more capable of learning than experts at that time believed.
In 1901, Montessori was appointed director of the Orophrenic School of Rome, which had been used as an asylum to confine children with mental retardation. Drawing largely on the ideas of renowned French educators Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin, Montessori provided the children with mental stimulation, meaningful activities, and opportunities to develop self esteem. She received widespread recognition for her work when many of the adolescents at the school passed standard tests for sixth-grade students in the Italian public schools.
Montessori believed that her methods would prove even more effective with children of normal intelligence. In 1907, she opened the first Montessori school in a slum district of Rome. Within a year, observers came from around the world to see the progress made by Montessori’s students. Before the age of five the children learned to read and write, they preferred work to play, and they displayed sustained mental concentration without fatigue.
Montessori based her educational method on giving children freedom in a specially prepared environment, under the guidance of a trained director. She stressed that leaders of the classroom be called directors rather than teachers because their main work was to direct the interests of children and advance their development. According to Montessori, when a child is ready to learn new and more difficult tasks, the director should guide the child from the outset so that the child does not waste effort or learn wrong habits.
Montessori was convinced that universal adoption of her teaching method would be of immense value in bringing about world peace, and she stressed the importance of education as the “armament of peace.”
Bilingual French Program
In 2004, Devereux School blended the old with the new as we announced that the school would become a bilingual institution. As an English/French Montessori school, all students receive daily French instruction as part of their curriculum. Devereux School strongly believes that by exposing children to language at a very early age, and within a nurturing classroom environment, can only result in a successful and meaningful experience for them.
“Let the teacher not lose sight of the fact that the goal sought is not an immediate one, but rather to make the spiritual being which she is educating capable of finding his way by himself.”
Since its introduction in 2004, our French program has flourished. On average, two-thirds of our grade school students score in the top 90th percentile of Le Grand Concours, a national French contest. Nearly 100,000 children nationwide and abroad participate in the Grand Concours each year. We are proud that in 2009 we had our first gold medal winner! It is worth noting that among all first grade students nationwide who took the exam, only two gold medals were awarded. The high performance of our students is both a strong indicator of the success of our program and affirms our belief in the potential of a child to absorb a second language.
As part of their French studies each student receives an introduction to alphabet, numbers, colors, greetings, active verbs and grammar, body parts, songs and games, and different French customs. Classes follow a “home and family” theme that encourages children to use their new French vocabulary at home with their families. All aspects of the program are supported by visual and manipulative aids to add enjoyment to the learning process.
Responsibility and Respect
The child’s sense of responsibility for the natural and human environment is developed through participation in animal care of the school’s rabbit, and tending to the school grounds. This includes feeding, watering, planting, raking, and keeping the environment free of litter.
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher...is to be able to say 'The children are now working as if I do not exist'.”
The faculty and staff at Devereux share a set of values that make the school a unique and productive educational environment. Adults respect and prize the individuality of each student. We acknowledge that students have particular gifts and specific strengths in their approaches to learning. Through a focus on manners, public speaking and recitation, children develop self-confidence and poise. Teachers watch for this growing confidence in all aspects of a student’s life at the school and support that growth by encouraging each student to do his or her best.
As Maria Montessori once said, “Character formation cannot be taught. It comes from experience and not from explanation.”