Founder Dr. Maria Montessori esatablished the first school in Rome in 1907. Today, Montessori is the single largest educational philosophy in the world with 22,000 Montessori schools in more than 100 countries on six continents.

While the Montessori philosophy was developed over 100 years ago, humans have not changed their learning patterns as societies and technology have changed. While technology certainly helps us facilitate learning, it does not change the nature of learning.

The New Zealand educational curriculum, with its focus on producing “confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners” and promoting self-managed, critical thinkers, is well suited to Montessori classes with its self-directed activity, hands on learning and collaborative work with the guidance of teachers.

For the 12-15 age group students either work in a farm, urban or mixed model of Montessori (Harbour is a mixed model with the added benefit of regular access to the garden, native bush and orchard onsite rather than being situated on a farm). Students are supported to understand themselves in a wider frame of reference while at the same time providing a context for practical application of varied academic study in real world scenarios. Strengthening interpersonal relationships, self-expression and building resilience and self-reliance are emphasised. Students gain intrinsic motivation to succeed.

The programme supports students to engage, digest, explore and broaden their experience in a safe environment where they can make and learn from mistakes. Often young people as well as adults find it hard to see that mistakes are part of learning and improvement. Montessori allows for this in constructive ways.

The role of Montessori education is to raise peaceful, self-motivated, independent students who will provide strong leadership wherever they may be. These future leaders can then influence decision-making at many different levels throughout our community and bring about a positive influence within society.

Allowing children to follow their passions allows passions to become future employment opportunities. Communities with people who truly love their jobs are more able to contribute back to the wider community.

For more information, Wikipedia has a good summary, and Catherine McTamaney has written a great elevator pitch on why she’d love more students to experience Montessori.