Montessori & Creativity


I have had the pleasure recently of participating in some Montessori workshops and presentations where passionate Montessorians spoke about creativity requiring passion and commitment. Read more …

Heidi Phillipatt, Montessori teacher trainer, referred to a study on creativity by George Land. His tests measured the ability to generate multiple approaches to solving a problem, tracking down the ‘creative geniuses’ in each category. The study showed that children under the age of five years of age are 98% creative. This number drops to 30% by the time children reach ten years of age. By fifteen years it is down to 12% and once we become adults, he found, our creativity is measured as 2%! He concluded that non-creative behaviour is a ‘learned’ concept’ and that we can ‘grow out of’ creativity.

Phillipatt mentioned that adults live in the past and future, but not the present. Children live in the present and take in everything, which leads to developing their creativity and imagination. She said that if you were to ask 100 people if they believe they are creative, significantly more than half will tell you that they are not. Some will go on to explain that they would describe themselves as logical and rational thinkers.

In our Montessori classrooms, we encourage children’s creativity by allowing them to direct their own learning, at their own pace. This can help to provide them with the self-confidence they need to be inventive and take risks with their learning. This is an important aspect of the creative process.

I could also argue that we foster children’s curiosity about the world around them and how it works; Fishkin and Johnson (1998) emphasise that a link exists between curiosity and creativity: they ‘fuel each other’.

Children have freedom of movement around the learning area and choosing Montessori materials. They can also talk through with their Director what they would like to work with that interests them. This gives children the opportunity to pursue a topic that is of interest, from which the child will also gain a sense of purpose and direction, another key aspect of creativity.

Montessori believed that all children possess tremendous creativity. This creativity is directed towards becoming ‘a developed individual, endowed with a sensitive soul, an eye that sees and a hand that obeys’. You could ask yourself, how do you support your child’s developing creativity?

Sarah Beresford-Jones
Director – Student Development

Fi Hills writes about George Land in “Back to the Future: Reclaiming Our Ability to Think Creatively.”
Fishkin, A., & Johnson, A., (1998). Who is creative? Identifying children’s creative abilities.

NB: For those of you who might be interested, Alfie Kohn is visiting Sydney in November. Mr Kohn is an author on education, parenting and human behaviour. He has written that learning should be organized around “problems, projects, and questions – rather than around lists of facts, skills, and separate disciplines.” Along with this belief, Kohn feels that students should have an active voice in the classroom with the ability to have a meaningful impact on the curriculum, structure of the room, and any necessary discipline measures.