Nandini Sampat has been a Montessori teacher for 19 years. According to her, it has been a most rewarding experience. I simply cant quantify it. I have enjoyed each and every moment spent with the children, says Sampat, co-ordinator, Akshar School, Calcutta.
For Sampat and many other teachers like her, spending hours among pre-school (two-six years) children, observing them use the materials given to them in their unique way, and at times helping and guiding them in their learning is a day well spent.
The Montessori method of education is named after Maria Montessori — who developed this innovative system of learning for children more than a century ago in Italy — and it remains, to this day, one of the most popular forms of education all over the world.
The Montessori method is child-centric. A teacher acts as just a guide, leading children to discover their own abilities and not imposing herself on them. Thats not an easy thing to do. It comes with lot of training and patience, says Poonam Jain, director, New Beacon, a Montessori school in Calcutta.
When Sampat started teaching in 1990, it wasnt the money that attracted people to this profession. But she says that these days it is a rewarding career financially as well. When I started out, I earned peanuts, but things have changed. Today, Montessori teaching is considered a specialised job for professionals, says Sampat.
A trained professional can earn anywhere between Rs 6,000-8,000 a month. With experience people can earn even more, and with ICSE and CBSE schools opening their doors to Montessori education, the salaries can only go up as one rises through the ranks, says Soma Sircar, director, Calcutta Montessori Training Centre.
The first thing I look for in a teacher is the energy level. Thats the most important thing, then follow things like love for children and patience, says Neena Singh, principal, Divyayan Montessori, Calcutta.
Besides regular Montessori schools, students with diplomas in the Montessori method of teaching easily find jobs in branded pre-schools. Its a huge market with majors like Kidzee, Eurokids and Mothers Pride in the fray. Many of our students are working in these schools, says Sircar.
In the absence of a government policy on pre-school education, schools have devised their own forms of teaching. But most of them incorporate elements of the Montessori method. Many playschools, even if they do not mention the word Montessori, follow that method of teaching, says Sircar.
These days, many students of Montessori training schools are former employees of multinational companies. People dont learn the Montessori method only with the intention of becoming a teacher; many mothers also learn this method to understand and teach their children better, says Shamala Rao of the Indian Montessori Training Course, Bangalore.
One such person is Bangalore-based Siva Kamasundari, a former team manager with the worlds largest PC vendor, Dell. I realised that this was one of the best ways learn about my two children. Not only does this course make me a better mother, I also intend to put it to good use in the future, she says. A few years down the line, Kamasundari plans to start a playschool.
Apart from playschools, students of the Montessori method can also set up crèches and pre-schools. According to experts, self-employment is what many students dream of. The initial investment is anywhere between Rs 5 and 8 lakh. If the school is run with dedication, admissions will not be a problem, says N. Narayan, co-ordinator of a distance learning course with the Indian Montessori Centre, Bangalore.
Montessori teacher training schools are spread across the country. While some offer classroom courses, others have both postal and online ones. These courses last between three and nine months. Most training institutes prefer students who are good at written and spoken English while some offer courses only for graduates. The course fee ranges from Rs 14,000-18,000 for classroom courses and Rs 5,000-15,000 for postal and online ones.
- Calcutta Montessori Training Centre,
- Netaji Subhas Open University, Calcutta
- Indian Montessori Centre, Bangalore
- Centre for Educational Research & Developmental Studies, Kottayam and Delhi www.cerds.com
- Navadisha Montessori Institute, Chennai
- Montessori Research and Training Centre,
- R.T.I. Montessori Training Course, Mumbai
This is not an exhaustive list