Math and geometry are but tools to quantify and describe the greatness and beauty of God’s creation. Other educational approaches focus on teaching the “three R’s” whereas in Montessori, language and math are the means to the end, helping children arrive at the essence of a Montessori education: world culture, history, the arts, science, great literature, philosophy, and economics. Facility with math takes a student to the many cultural areas of interest that elementary aged children become drawn to. Mathematics eagerness only grows as it connects more and more to the interests and lives of the children.
Dr. Montessori insisted children are born with a ‘mathematical mind’ that hungers to count and quantify the world around them. As learners progress through the math and geometry curriculum, concrete ways of representing numbers and shapes become increasingly abstract. For example, hands-on measuring exercises help six-year-olds better understand the size and scale of things. Also, children want to know the value of things, and go on to develop a sense of economics through hands-on, entrepreneurial activities. New concepts and difficulty are isolated along the way so that each child organically unfolds him or herself one step at a time, and at their own pace. Learning is not just about the correct answer, rather, our focus is on the process of how the answer is reached. What the child discovers along the way is key.
Manual exploration of mathematical concepts and especially geometric shapes leads to profound realizations. From Fibonacci sequences on display in nature to the universal beauty recognized in certain geometry found in master artwork through the ages: God’s touch can be found upon everything.
Learners come to understand abstract ideas by experience. For instance, formulas for finding the area of plane figures or algebraic principles are not memorized - they are discovered! Montessori referred to her advanced math and geometry materials as, “a gymnasium for the mind,” and many agree. Math and geometry mastery equips each student with a process to measure and quantify whatever they encounter or that their minds conceive of.