A Rhetorical Analysis of The Montessori Method

Maria Montessori graduated in 1894 from the University of Rome’s medical school, becoming Italys first female doctor. This was a feat that reinforced Montessori’s commitment to women’s rights. Living in the 20th century, Montessori noticed society’s use of science as an approach to improving education. She believed these strategies were scientifically irrelevant to the teaching of students.

In her writing “The Montessori Method”, Maria Montessori effectively convinces her reader that to be an effective educator, a teacher must learn how to educate the child from the child himself. Montessori makes good use of analogies and rhetorical appeals to back up her argument. She emphasizes the freedom of the student and rejects the scientific approach to learning. Montessori uses ethos appeal at the beginning of her argument by referencing Jean Jacques Rousseau and his view of liberty (576).

This is an effective use of ethos because while it gives Montessori credibility as a writer, it also sets up the reader for her sub-claim that “It is a conquest of liberty which the school needs, not the mechanism of a bench” (Montessori 579). She incorporates Rousseau’s ideas of liberty with “social liberty’ in the classroom. This supports her main argument of “studying the pupil before educating him” because you can’t sit a child down, immobile, in a desk and feed him or her dry, pointless facts and expect them Welch 2 to become educated.

You must allow the child freedom in the classroom, analyze the way the child pursues his own learning, and incorporate his methods into your teaching of the child. This is much more effective because it creates interest in the child to learn rather than provoking them to. She also uses the word “slave” basically to describe the way the child is forced to learn. This comparison is especially ffective when considering Montessori’s audience. No parent would want to put their child in an environment where they can be described as slaves and what kind of teacher wants to assume the role of the slave master?

Generally, Montessori provides support for her claims in the form of analogies. On page 578, she says, “The underfed workman does not ask for tonic, but for better economic conditions which shall prevent malnutrition”. Immediately after, she uses another analogy when she says “The miner who, through the stooping position maintained during many hours of the day, is subject to inguinal rupture, does not ask or an abdominal support, but demands shorter hours and better working conditions, in order that he may be able to lead a healthy life like other men”.

Both these analogies refer to her claim that better education will result from the understanding of how children pursue their own learning. Montessori’s analogies are especially effective because they provide a better understanding for the reader of the argument that she is trying to get across. Her analogies provide a more understandable and rea ble topic tor ner audience. Montessori makes a smooth transition into another claim when she says “We know nly two spectacle of the teacher who, in the ordinary classroom, must poor certain cut and dry facts into the heads of the scholars.

In order to succeed in this Welch 3 barren task, she finds it necessary to discipline her pupils into immobility and to force their attention. Prizes and punishments are ever-ready and efficient aids to the master who must force into a given attitude of mind and body those who are condemned to be his listeners ” (580). This statement does a near perfect Job of wrapping up her previous claim, while at the same time, introducing another one of her oppositions to the conduct of an ordinary classroom. Montessori thinks that prizes and punishments have a negative impact on a child’s learning.

The giving of prizes and punishments are supposed to motivate students, but according to Montessori, prizes and punishments have a overall negative impact on learning because the students don’t want to learn out of curiosity, but rather forced effort. Therefore, there is no natural development of the child’s knowledge. She adds support to this claim with the use ofa metaphor. The metaphor states that such prizes and punishments are “the bench of the soul, the instrument of slavery for the pirit” (Montessori 580).

This metaphor compares the effectiveness of prizes and punishments to the effectiveness of the science of the modern classroom desk. Like all the scientific effort put into perfecting the school desk, prizes and punishments have no positive effect on a child’s education. In the same paragraph Montessori uses another analogy to reiterate her strong belief in the freedom that students deserve in the classroom. “The Jockey offers a piece of sugar to his horse Jumping into the saddle, the coachman beats his horse that may he respond to the signs given y the reins; and yet, neither of these runs so superbly as the free horse of the plains”.

What she means is, the students that are set free in the classroom and are Welch 4 enabled to explore there own curiosity and interest, will learn better than the students that are provoked by prizes and punishments. Montessori goes on about the subject of prizes and punishments and basically says that with their presence in the classroom, students are being held back from their true educational potential. This supports her main argument because if teachers did not present their students with prizes and punishments, then they ould be able to “lead them into their true heritage of progress” (Montessori 580).

What this means is, that if the student isn’t provoked to learn, he or she will obtain knowledge naturally and more efficiently. Maria Montessori pushes for social liberty in the classroom and emphasizes the freedom students deserve. Montessori argues that to be an effective educator, a teacher must learn how to educate the child from the child himself. Her use of analogies and appeals paints a picture for her audience and presents the point she is trying to get across in a more understandable way.