Thomas Lickona, author and developmental psychologist, defines character development as:
“the deliberate effort to cultivate virtue—that is, objectively good human qualities that are good for the individual person and good for the whole society.”
The Montessori Model of Education identifies the basis of character development and ways to integrate these ideas into a classroom setting. Maria Montessori observed that the origins of a child’s character surface within the first six years of life. She states that the environment to which a child is exposed will influence his or her future character development. A child’s true personality will evolve naturally with the help of providing the child with “productive activity” that teaches right from wrong.
Montessori advises that by concentrating on positive activities, negative traits such as laziness and disorder will be replaced by traits such as sociability and discipline. Through studying children’s engagement in a positive environment and with one another, she identified seven important virtues:
- Montessori observed that concentration was the foundation for a child’s character development and social behavior. The Montessori environment supplies multiple materials and activities for a child to choose from, which enables “her to engage deeply and concentrate, helping her to form and shape her character”.
- Perseverance was a virtue that evolved in character development due to the teaching strategy of scaffolding and repetition. A child learns to start and complete an activity which is an important trait for future endeavors.
- Patience and respect follow next on the list of observed virtues in which the child learns to deny personal impulses and wait for his or her turn.
- Helpfulness naturally occurs since the Montessori’s environment gives older children the opportunity to aid younger students. Montessori is quoted as saying, “goodness must come out of reciprocal helpfulness”.
- Children learn responsibility by participating in group work and keeping the classroom organized.
- The virtue of self-discipline appears when a child is placed in an environment with vigorous activity, free will, and working with others.
By setting the foundation of moral thinking and action, children will learn not only to be decent students, but also decent human beings. Good character, which surpasses all time and information learned, is nurtured and modeled by our passionate Montessori teachers.