What is individualized education? We want to take this opportunity to explain. In this post, we'll highlight a few principles that will better articulate what exactly it means to offer personal, individualized, one-on-one education. We'll also, and as an accompaniment to this short article, offer a visual glimpse. As they say, "seeing is believing". Let's get started.
The first point to note is that Mrs. Will keeps extensive records on the progress of each, individual student. The materials themselves offer positive feedback, alerting us as to when the student is ready to proceed, but it is Mrs. Will's job to observe the child, and know when to present them with new materials. At one and the same time, we must support and nurture their growth, but we must also try to keep the students on the cusp of extending their own abilities. No small task, to be sure!
In this presentation, Mrs. Will has decided that this student is ready to learn the "smelling jars". The aim of the activity, then, is to match two identical smells, in two contrasting jars: demarcated by black and white lids. Montessori believed that we learn through our senses, and this activity presents a challenge to our sense of smelling. Isolating the difficulty.
As you'll see from the photo's, Mrs. Will smells the jar, establishing trust and a committment to engage with the student. Sometimes this reassurance is all that is needed to pursue the activity in greater depth.
Knowing the student's capabilities, and knowing exactly what they are capable of, and what they will be challenged by, is the core of individualized education. In contrast with traditional methods, which would have the entire class learning the same thing, at the exact same time, despite their level or interests, in Montessori, we focus on the individual needs and interests of the student.
Once Mrs. Will has presented the work, and is confident that the student can engage with the activity on her own, she will remove herself from the situation, leaving the student to further explore the activity, at their own pace, with their own level of interest. Once a presentation has been given, the student is now free to work with this material at anytime.