Monday, February 2, 2009

Montessori on Teaching Math to Children

Have you ever had a teacher, parent, or spouse who was unable to explain something in a clear and concise way? Here is a great quote from Dr. Maria Montessori in which she discusses the need for clarity and simplicity in presentations:

"I remember being present at an arithmetic lesson where the children were being taught that two and three make five. To this end, the teacher made use of a counting board having coloured beads strung on its thin wires. She arranged, for example, two beads on the top line, then on a lower line three, and at the bottom five beads. I do not remember very clearly the development of this lesson, but I do know that the teacher found it necessary to place beside the two beads on the upper wire a little cardboard dancer with a blue skirt, which she christened on the spot the name of one of the children in the class, saying, "This is Mariettina." And then beside the other three beads she placed a little dancer dressed in a different colour, which she called "Gigina." I do not know exactly how the teacher arrived at the demonstration of the sum, but certainly she talked for a long time with these little dancers, moving them about, etc."

"If I remember the dancers more clearly than I do the arithmetic process, how must it have been with the children? If by such a method they were able to learn that two and three make five, they must have made a tremendous mental effort, and the teacher must have found it necessary to talk with the little dancers for a long time."

Quote from The Montessori Method by Dr. Montessori.

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