In AITTA schools, children are admitted at the age of two-and-a-half years. When they leave at the age of six, they have with them the basics of learning – knowledge of the world around them, the ability to write, the ability to read, and the ability to perform the four arithmetic operations (addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division).Several of the subjects like history, geography, sciences etc are introduced to them as items of human culture.
Worth much more than all these is the sense of self-worth and the self-esteem that they develop. Self-worth and self-esteem are what that makes a child happy. Sense of freedom and independence is a great advantage to life. Discipline becomes part of his life, self imposed. There is no bitterness about it.
It provides child with the necessary base to face the rigors of life positively throughout life.
A look at the Traditional classroom.
AITTA method stands apart as a method of education, It is a method that truly respects the child and promotes independence in the child.
How is it different from the traditional method?
Walk into a traditional classroom and what do you see? Twenty, or thirty, or forty (or more!) children seated in parallel rows, facing the teacher. Let us assume that they are three-year olds, and that the teacher is telling them the colour name ‘Red’. She shows them a red apple as an example of the colour. Some of the children do make the association. But here’s a boy in the fourth row, who is hearing the word ‘red’ but looking at the shape of the apple. And there’s another who is thinking of the taste! And the girl in the front row is thinking of her uncle who brought apples home yesterday! The children at the back aren’t even listening.
This is the story of traditional education – it is based on the hope that the children are listening to the teacher, and are mentally making the connections that the teacher wants them to.
What is it that makes AITTA method so wholesome for children? Why are children in AITTA schools happy while they learn?
One reason is that it brings about development in every sense of the word – truly an enveloping development. There is development of the body – physical development – as the child performs that involve movements of the fingers and large movements of the body. There is spiritual development as the child seeks for knowledge and is encouraged in this seeking – he develops the spirit of enquiry. There is intellectual development as the child gains the knowledge he has sought. There is linguistic development as the child speaks freely, is listened to,. Thus he learns to express himself. There is emotional development as the child feels the fullness of positive emotions at work completed and ends achieved. There is social development as children show consideration for each other as they share the material. The child develops the ability to concentrate for longer and longer periods. Through it all, the child is growing as an individual, not as an insignificant member of a group.
The Montessori inspired AITTA method gives the child “inner work” and “outer work,” both of which he needs in his efforts to grow and develop into an adult. It develops his will, his intellect, and his motor control, separately and together. His senses become efficient servants of the intelligence apart from supplying all experiences. These experiences are the raw materials for shaping his personality.. He has opportunity for intelligence to focus on the use of his senses. It gives him a strong foundation in Mathematics and Language. It gives him the ability to work, and helps him to be a responsible person. The real sense of the term ‘social interaction’ is seen in a Montessori inspired environment. Obviously the child is happy.
Our classrooms are nothing but Prepared Environments, which are designed to meet the physical and psychological needs of the child at each stage of development. At AITTA, the curriculum is embedded within a learning environment or classroom, in the form of a carefully designed and sequenced range of hands-on learning materials and activities. Educational materials are designed to stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery.
The beauty, order and accessibility in the classroom serve to entice the child into activity. Guided by the teacher, the child explores the materials independently, and this is when the learning occurs. Children are able to engage with the activities according to their individual interests and at their own pace. In this way learning becomes highly personalized. The classroom is not merely a place for individual learning. It is a vibrant community of children, where the child learns to interact socially in a variety of ways. With such a variety of levels in the classroom, each child can work at his or her own pace, unhindered by competition and encouraged by co-operation.
Key Principles of the Prepared Environment
Independence – the environment must be prepared to enable the child to become physically independent of the adult. Because he is able to do things for himself he starts to be able to choose and decide things for himself. The environment must allow for this both in the way that the materials are prepared and in the approach of the adults.
Indirect preparation – although activities are prepared with their own developmental aim in mind they also prepare for something that will come later in the child’s development. Sometimes this preparation is for something that will occur in the same plane but it also refers to something that may occur much later in the child’s life e.g. the sensorial base for mathematical understanding in the abstract, or moral development.
Order is something that pervades a classroom environment. For the small child in our schools, the physical order of the prepared environment is obvious but order also underlies all of the less tangible aspects of the environment e.g. the consistency of the adults and their approach, the order of presentation etc. For the older child the social order becomes more important. Choice – the environment must give the child the opportunity to choose what he does from a range of activities that are suitable to his developmental needs.
Essential to the prepared environment is the child’s freedom – to choose, to work for as long as he wants to, to not work, to work without being interrupted by other children or by the constraints of a timetable etc. – as long as his activity does not interfere with other children’s right and freedom to do the same.
The environment must allow the child’s free movement so that he can exercise his freedom to bring himself into contact with the things and people in his environment that he needs for his development.
Control of Error –
The environment and in particular the materials should be prepared in a way that allows the child to become aware of his mistakes and to correct them for himself so that he understands that it is all right to be wrong and that we can learn from our mistakes.
The materials that we choose for the environment must act as keys to the child’s development and we need to prepare the environment with this in mind. The keys we choose will be directed by the child’s essential developmental needs at each age range.
Role of the Adult –
The adult is also part of the classroom environment. The role of this adult is not like the teacher in a traditional environment, however – whose role is to teach the children. The role of the adult in an AITTA environment is to facilitate the child to teach himself by following his own internal urges that will lead him to take what he needs from the things and people around him.