Before we analyze the growing trends in Nigerian education, we have to ask ourselves – what is Montessori education? Founded by Dr Maria Montessori, this educational approach is catered towards children with developmental and learning disabilities.
Instead of using traditional teaching methods, the Montessori education system seeks to help the child not just mentally – but also physically and emotionally.
Using the Montessori method, children are being exposed to real-life situations through rigorous training and significant emotional support. An emphasis is put on creative speech, expression and the child’s own interest, instead of following a curriculum that is “set in stone.”
Nigeria, more than any other country, has adopted the Montessori system. If practised properly, the method is a valuable tool that provides support to struggling children. However, the right approach, the Montessori system doesn’t help just children but also gives teachers the opportunity to grow as people.
Even though the Montessori approach has been developed for children with disabilities, it has since grown to be a universal aid to assist all children with maximizing their inherent potential. Why is the Montessori system so efficient?
It can be explained with three simple reasons:
- It creates a safe environment for kids. By eliminating stress related to tests and exams, children are free to unlock the full potential of their minds.
- With the Montessori system, children are prepared for later educational environments, as well as work. In Montessori schools, children are encouraged to follow their interests and pursue what makes them happy. This approach directly bypasses the distaste many children feel when they’re forced to learn something they don’t want to.
- It reinforces the teacher-student relationship. In conventional educational systems, teachers have been stripped of the pedagogy part of their vocation. With the Montessori approach, teachers foster the human side of children and teach them essential qualities that will prove useful in later life.
Is Montessori education outdated? Not at all. Nowhere is this more developed than in the country of Nigeria. Let’s take a look at the current state.
The application method of Montessori in Nigeria
Education Nigeria hasn’t always been ideal, for students and teachers alike. Due to widespread corruption and outdated teaching methods, children have been struggling more than ever.
In the early 2000s, there has been an explosion of institutions that follow the Montessori system. Nigeria is an ideal case study because of the width of the Montessori application.
Instead of just elementary schools, the Montessori system has been instilled in daycare programs and kindergartens.
Nigerians have successfully applied two facets of Montessori training into their educational institutions. The first step involves establishing viable teacher training programs that allow the teachers to grasp both educational and pedagogical aspects of their profession.
The next step is the application of safe environments and so-called “subject” networks. The concept of a safe environment relates to children feeling comfortable because they learn what they want, without pressure.
Children are monitored from the moment they enter the Montessori system in Nigeria, and their performance is studied closely. When their interests are recorded, each child receives a customized approach.
For example, if a child is interested in writing, more attention is paid to social sciences. If children prefer maths, then physics and chemistry become the main focus of the personalized curriculum. It’s important to point out the importance of games in the Montessori system, as both a leisure method and educational tool.
Potential problems with Montessori education in Nigeria
As a potential “cure” for inefficient conventional education, the Montessori system has saved the lives of millions of children throughout the region. However, it’s important to note the perils involved with this approach.
Two main problems have been observed:
- A lack of sufficient training. Corruption and inefficiency stand in the way of proper Montessori application. Many teachers are unaware of even the basic notions of Montessori. A lot of this has to do with a lack of monitoring and state-funded programs.
- Too many children in one classroom. The Montessori system can only succeed if children can express themselves freely. In crowded classrooms, this isn’t possible.
Solving these problems will take time, but Nigeria is on the right track and is showing signs of improvement.
Montessori education is a prime example of how conventional educational can be bettered to nurture great young minds. Due to educational issues in Nigeria, teachers and parents were forced to look for an unorthodox approach. As Montessori became more prevalent, we’ve seen a rise in overall self-confidence in children, as well as improved creative thinking.
Why is the case study of Nigeria so important? Using this West African country as a blueprint, we can learn how to use Montessori education as a solution for inefficient education, as well as a vessel for personal and spiritual growth. As more countries opt for Montessori, we will see better standardization.
Elizabeth Skinner is pedagogist and expert on teaching children with intellectual disabilities. She has been a long-time supporter of Montessori education and other alternative teaching methods. Through blogs and lectures, she is spreading awareness about problems in the modern education system.