The legal requirement
The fact of the matter is that to teach in formal schooling in South Africa (as current legislation stands), teachers need a teaching degree or postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). These qualifications allow the teacher to register fully with SACE (South African Council for Educators) – which is a legal requirement.
What happens in a Montessori Primary School?
Montessori schools have historically moved preschool teachers with the children moving into primary to continue their journey with them. However, without the proper primary training, these teachers and their classes fall back into traditional routines and the Montessori element is soon lost.
In order to comply with the abovementioned legal requirement, some Montessori primary schools employ traditionally trained teachers and then struggle to develop their understanding of the Montessori method at the Primary level, again resulting in the teacher falling back to the ‘comfort’ of her/his traditional teaching approach.
A Montessori Primary teacher’s training will include an exploration into what Montessori called the ‘Second Plane of Development’ – the child between the ages of 6 to 12 years.
The key elements of any Montessori classroom include the teacher (facilitator), the prepared or favourable environment, and of course the child. In the Primary years, the consideration of each is vital. The training of a Montessori Primary teacher includes a considered understanding of the elements of each of these key elements, and how the flow and interdependence of these elements are carefully constructed each year of the two three-year cycles – 6-9 years and 9-12 years.
The characteristics of the Primary Child
The characteristics of the primary school child are quite different to the child in the first plane of development and so the preparation of the teacher to engage and work with these children and the steps s/he takes to prepare the environment will also be different.
The primary child needs to ‘go out’ as Montessori put it, and this means that the teacher’s preparation of the environment expands considerably from what s/he did in the Preschool classroom.
Participation and collaboration are inherent outcomes of all work done in a Montessori Primary environment. In order for the Montessori teacher to facilitate these possibilities for each child, s/he will need to develop a deep understanding of the Montessori primary materials and their function, a love of the natural world, and a desire to really help awaken the child’s natural tendency to explore the world beyond the classroom walls.
Presentation of the lessons at this stage needs a different approach to what was used in the preschool. I always say that if the Montessori Primary teacher is interesting, the children will be interested!
This is the Age of Imagination. All of the careful work we have done with the 3-6 year old child, all the seeds that have been sown, are now ready to germinate and grow with the ever-curious child of the second plane. It is up to us to ensure that every teacher/facilitator in a Montessori classroom is the inspiration that fires the child’s awakening imagination.
MCSA Montessori Primary Specialisation Course
Our Montessori Primary Specialisation course (for children aged 6-9 years) is aimed at taking traditionally trained teachers with the required degree qualifications through the Montessori curriculum, providing teachers with the core knowledge of the philosophy of the second plane child, the presentation of the Montessori materials and an understanding of how the South African National Outcomes can be met through the use of the Montessori materials.
Heidi van Staden