Dr. Thomas J. Banta studied how children react and learn in environments where they are not told what to do, but rather were given freedom to actively self discover in the classroom. His report from January through November 1966 from testing over 300 preschoolers from various socio-economic groups and different types of preschools reveals how well Montessori schools work for underprivileged children. He placed the participants in 3 different groups:
Group 1-Children who did not attend preschool from poorer families.
Group 2-Children who attended preschool from poorer families.
Group 3-Children who did not attend preschool from families who made average to high incomes.
Here are the main conclusions from “The Montessori Way” by Lena Gitter.
” Privileged children, as might be expected, are far suprior in innovative behavior; pre-kindergarten can modify this condition but privileged children have a considerable headstart. Dr. Banta also discovered that the best results among disadvantaged children were obtained in a Montessori classroom.
Analytic thinking can be trained in pre-kindergarten classrooms, but again the privileged child has the advantage. Once again, Montessori class showed the greatest improvement, and it was a large one.
Learning processes are greatly improved through pre-kindergarten experience, and under certain conditions disadvantaged children do slightly better than privileged children. Dr. Banta does not yet make further statements on this point, but research undertaken by others, which backs him up, points to the necessity of providing those pre-kindergarten learning conditons which will enable the disadvantaged child to achieve his potential, both for his own good and for the good of society as a whole.”
Gitter goes on to conclude, “It is not surprising that such detailed experimental work supports Montessori’s discoveries and reccommendations, for she spoke of her work in similar language: “It is by scientific and rational means also that we must facilitate that inner work of psychical adaptation to be accomplished within the child, a work which is by not means the same thing as “anyexternal work or production whatsoever.” (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, Montessori)
Children basically learn by self discovery, they have an intuitive urge to learn in an enriching environment.