What Is The Montessori Approach To Creativity

In Montessori we view creativity in the broadest sense. The child possesses tremendous creativity, which is directed towards becoming a ‘developed individual, endowed with a sensitive soul, an eye that sees and a hand that obeys’. This is how Dr. Maria Montessori describes the basic qualities of the creative individual.

Dr Montessori spoke often of the double task of the adaptive and constructive role of the child in human life. She states, ‘at birth a child does not have the behaviour characteristics of the group into which he is born; he has to create and prepare them. He has to learn their language and the customs and use of their implements. Whilst developing himself he unconsciously develops his own adaptation to his environment. To understand the child's tendencies, with the purpose of education in mind, we must see man in correlation with his surrounding environment and how his adaptation to it is created.’

Dr. Montessori found that the growth of a child's creativity developed spontaneously as the child's intelligence becomes established through his interaction with a prepared environment. The development of creativity depends on the child's progression through the stages of cognitive growth; from sensori-motor intelligence to intuitive thought, to concrete operations and finally to formal operations. Creativity then, is not so much developed by a concentration on its stimulation, so much as it evolves at the end of a long process of cognitive development which had absorption of reality as its beginning point.

A natural law governing the development of a child's imagination and creativity are inborn powers in the child that develop as his mental capacities are established through his or her interaction in the environment.

The environment must itself be beautiful, harmonious and based in reality in order for the child to organise his or her perceptions of it.

When he has developed realistic and ordered perceptions of the life about him, the child is capable of selecting and emphasising processes necessary for creative endeavours. Dr. Montessori emphasised that this selective capability requires three qualities:

  • a remarkable power of attention and concentration
  • a considerable autonomy and independence of judgement and,
  • an expectant faith that remains open to truth and reality

In addition to an environment of beauty, order and reality, Montessori realised that the child needs freedom if he is to develop creativity:

  • freedom to select what attracts him in his environment
  • to relate to it without interruption, and for as long as he likes
  • to discover solutions and ideas
  • to select an answer on his own and,
  • to communicate and share his discoveries with others at will

The child in the Montessori classroom is also free from the judgement by an outside authority that so annihilates the creative impulse.

Dr. Maria Montessori viewed creativity within the context of total development – intellectual, artistic, emotional and physical. Her plotting of child development traces the most significant of creative endeavours – the making of the personality, the construction of the child's self.

The environment is the source for creative process. We do not mean necessarily the art shelf, scissors and paste, clay, random play, finger-paint or musical instruments. These all play a role in the development. But the Montessori formula is simple – the child's integration is an integration of self, which comes from participation in the real from a very young age.

For the young child, imagination, art and music will be evoked by knowledge and experience of how the world really works, and with full application of the mind, the eye and the hand, will come mastery of the environment.

Art, like music, is a universal language which can be understood by all. During the early years the child's intellectual activity and physical skills are fused in a creative process which is unique to humanity.

By Pamela Nunn