As a Montessori teacher, parent or someone affiliated with Montessori education, one often hears the phrase, “Follow the child.” Searching for this quote from Maria Montessori’s writings is challenging. However, her peer Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to education, stated clearly that “the teachers follow the children, not plans.” Learning is paramount; teachers are guided by the students.
Each student approaches the materials on the shelves, the lessons and the learning process in different ways. Some meet a challenge head on, yearning for more. Others sit back and watch, while still others work together, talk about what they’re doing, experiment and do things in an entirely different way. There are as many ways to approach student work as there are materials in the classroom. It is the teacher’s job to see how students do their work and where the areas of understanding meet those of confusion. Following the child supports the children where they are in their learning while offering new lessons and materials to move them further along. Children lead; we provide the conditions for learning, serving them and their quest for knowledge.