MONTESSORI SYSTEM, a method of instruction used by Dr. Maria Montes sori and, as yet, used only in the branches of elementary education and with chil dren between the ages of 3 and 10 years. It is largely the development of the ideas of Froebel, and more especially of Seguin and Itard. The chief principle is that of "self-education"—allowing the child to learn ideas by its own activity and by following its own inclinations and not by being dictated to or disciplined by the teacher. In the Montessori system there are no classes, no lessons. There are no rewards or punishment, the only incentive used is the desire on the child's part to do things well in which he or she is interested. When the child enters the school he sees groups of children playing games and joins the group which is doing the things he likes best. The games are ones involving the senses of touch, sight, and hearing, and are so arranged and conducted that these senses are soon developed without the child being conscious of learning a task.
"Touch," for example, is practiced by playing games blindfolded, hearing by playing games in the dark. The interest and attention of the child never wavers as in the conventional school system, since he is always doing what he likes. Writing comes before reading in the Montessori system and is learned by means of playing with letters, and imi tating their shape. It usually takes a child of four years about two months to learn to write. "Reading" is learned by the application of similar methods. The role of the teacher in all this work is radically different from that under the old system. The material itself does the teaching, for it contains the control of errors. The teacher does not impart information; she is a "passive force, a silent presence."