‘Creativity in the Montessori Classroom’ By Anita Gokal, Kauri Teacher – 6-9 Primary

If we think about the technological revolution in our lives today, we can see that famous people such as Sergey Brin and Larry Page (inventors of google search engine), Will Wrights (inventor of The Sims, Simcity and Super Mario) and Jeff Bezos (the founder of Amazon) are just a few who have had a profound impact on us though their creativity. You may be wondering why I chose these individuals on my list here. To my astonishment, all of them have been Montessori children!

Wow! Isn’t that a big undertaking of a Montessori classroom – to prepare individuals who can create life changing things? Indeed it is!

So how do we support creativity in our classroom when we often don’t see any children’s work on the walls or bulletin boards? This is sometimes a huge question asked of us as educators.

To answer this, I compared two definitions of creativity. According to Dr Montessori, “What is called creation is in reality a composition, a construction raised upon a primitive material of the mind, which must be collected from the environment by means of the senses.” (Spontaneous Activity in Education, pg. 245). And according to the Oxford dictionary, creativity is defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness”.

Both the definitions support the use of ideas to construct and create. In Montessori preschool, children collect sensorial impressions. The precise materials allow children the opportunity to refine and accurately classify and abstract their impressions. The creativity at this age is in using the observation and applying it to identify the known. In primary, however, the children use their imagination to augment things in their work. Every key lesson offers the opportunity to explore and investigate a topic further and all follow up work opens the doors to creation by virtue of using the imagination.

Teaching in a primary class often surprises me with the unique “big work” that the children create in all the classes at Wā Ora. I see these on the deck or outdoors, from making volcano models to making a garden shed; from caring for the animals to sharing community lunches; be it a creation of a simple word problem in math or making the cube of 9 to the power of tens; or researching the causes of extinction of whales or finding the effects of global warming. Our children keep going until they have satisfied themselves, challenged themselves, solved problems, created models, timelines or mathematical solutions of whatever it is that has intrigued and captured their interest.

It is natural that the future leaders of the world who will make a difference for others by creating new and innovative solutions to the issues of tomorrow will be found in no other than a Montessori environment where they can “be more!”