In my never-ending quest for more knowledge on design principles and thinking, I recently came across an interesting article about Montessori classrooms and the role that design plays in this methodology to enhancing learning environments. From my visits to Montessori schools, I'll admit that I've been naive in assuming that this approach was only about a few things I've observed over the years, such as:
- Using tray-based systems to organize and structure activities
- A preference for neutral furniture patterns and colours -- often natural wood grains.
- The children seem to be quite disciplined and orderly.
Yes, I do understand that our teacher readers know that my 3 observations above are not necessarily the key points to Montessori. So before I get chastised in the comments below on how little I know about your field, I just wanted to say that as simply the "furniture guy", these were the things that I often saw when I visiting Montessori schools.
In her Core77 article, "Montessori Classrooms: Observations through a Design Lens", Heidi Newell explains that design plays a large part in influencing the fundamentals of Montessori. Especially in regards to furniture design, I found it fascinating to learn that Dr. Maria Montessori created the first child-sized desks that were light enough for children to move around the classroom, so that they would have the liberty to learn where they would like to within what is known as the "prepared environment".
For all the industrial designers out there who may be new to early learning education, check out Heidi Newell's article to learn more about the parallels of design and Montessori worlds. I for sure have a newfound appreciation for Montessori education.
Let's Discuss below:
- Industrial Designers: What furniture design ideas could better enable Montessori's principle of "Prepared Environments"?