Many parents are faced with the weighty decision early on in their child’s life as to which system of education they feel would best suit their child’s needs as they get older. Something that weighs heavily on the mind of parents, and rightly so, is the coverage of the New Zealand Curriculum within the Montessori approach to teaching and learning. The New Zealand Curriculum encompasses a range of skills and learning areas, all of which can be taught through a Montessori programme.
There are five key competencies that are identified by the New Zealand Curriculum. They are: thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others and participating and contributing. These competencies have been identified to assist in the development of the whole human being, the ultimate goal being people who are active members and contributors to the wider community. There are eight essential learning areas; English, the arts, health and physical education, learning languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences and technology. The Montessori approach is able to fit easily into the New Zealand Curriculum but “it is a framework rather than a detailed plan. This means while every school curriculum must be clearly aligned with the intent of this document, schools have considerable flexibility when determining the detail. In doing this, they can draw on a wide range of ideas, resources, and models.” The New Zealand Curriculum, Ministry of Education, 2007 p.16
Through the Montessori Cosmic Education, the Montessori teacher or guide is able to cater for all these learning areas. The New Zealand curriculum is a framework and Montessori materials and philosophy can be utilised in the delivery of the New Zealand Curriculum. The interrelated nature of Montessori Cosmic Education allows an organic approach to the coverage of the essential learning areas. For example, encompassed within a study of The Timeline of Man, in addition to history and social studies, students are exposed to different parts of mathematics such as scale measurement. Following the students’ interests lead to personal inquiry and research which involves many different aspects of reading and writing. In a study of primitive tools, technology can be studied and applied in real life.
As Montessori educators, we are fortunate to be able to guide the children during their learning journeys within such a framework that allows for a more open, and Montessori delivery of the NZ curriculum.
Tesneem Couper, Eastern Suburbs Montessori Primary School, Glendowie, Auckland, New Zealand