Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cinema and the Montessori Method

 Για να δείτε το άρθρο στα ελληνικά πατήστε ΕΔΩ

In this article, I am combining two of my favorite subjects, the history of cinema and Maria Montessori’s unique educational system.

by Vicky Raskin

I chose cinema for two reasons. First, films involve a multitude of art forms, including photography, music, dancing, acting, fashion, and literature. It is important to introduce the children to all these art forms.  Second, in our specific time, children are exposed to moving images everywhere in their lives, from television, movies, I-phones, I-pods and the internet. They need to understand how they are constructed for them to learn to view them critically and not just accept everything they see as true or an accurate representation of reality.

In the Montessori Educational Tradition, children are taught to critically interact with their environment. There are five major lesson programs: 1) Practical Life (learning everyday activities), 2) Sensorial (touching and interacting with their environment, 3) Language, 4) Math, and 5) Culture (which includes all of the above). Cinema naturally plays a very important part in Culture Lessons.

In the Montessori classroom, art work and artistic appreciation encourage the child to view many aspects of the objective or real world around him with the care and intensity his/her sensorial experiences have taught him/her. The child’s sensorial perception helps him/her to react and bring a more conscious level to the non-verbal thoughts and feelings he/she has about the that surround him/her. The total art experience gives the child the opportunity to express the child’s interactions with the environment by working with the inherent properties of the different art mediums which he/she has been introduced to and has experimented with. The Montessori classroom provides a prepared environment which, in itself, surrounds the child with examples of color, form and beauty.  

Freedom of Choice
When the child feels the need for an art activity in the Montessori classroom, she/he is free to select the materials and to choose whether to work on their own or in a group. Art is not taught in a traditional way, where every class member must participate whether they want to or not at a time designated for an “art lesson.” Rather the materials are made available to the child and the child chooses when to investigate their concrete properties. The teacher encourages this free expression in the guidelines they set for the use of the materials. The child uses his/her natural curiosity to explore new materials. The child repeats tasks and movements to build up sensorial information. This is natural and enjoyable for the child.  Teaching Cinema through the Montessori Pedagogy. We set up the actual materials that have been used historically in film. These include the 35mm. and 16mm. films, reels, editing machines, clapboards and other photographic devices such as movie cameras. They can see and interact with the actual materials throughout the history of cinema. For example, they see and touch tintypes, daguerreotypes, glass photographs, modern paper prints and modern digitalized sd storage devices. They also see examples of primitive and classic movies geared to children, such as Méliès, Chaplin, Keaton, Our Gang Comedies, Felix the Cat and Betty Boop Cartoons, “The Red Balloon” and “Hugo.” We try to select the movies that have appealed to children over the last 110 years.   

The Benefits of the Activities
This way the children are introduced to history and time. Children are able this way to get a sense of the evolution of cinema and the world. They see the distant past moving towards the present. They see the old clothes, cars, buildings and people of the past. They learn about history, geography, archaeology and anthropology this way. They get a good sense of the difference between second and third dimensional objects. It helps them to understand that moving pictures are not a product of nature, but a human product evolving with humans and their technical abilities.

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