Dr. Maria Montessori observed that an adult who works with children is a new kind of teacher who does not teach but guides the children. This person who assumes this role with children is the ‘trained adult’ whose role is different from that of a traditional teacher. In a traditional setting, teachers were active and children passive. But according to Dr. Maria Montessori, the role is different in the new path of education whereby the teacher is passive and the children are active. This trained adult must establish relationship with each child in a friendly way, and must be servant to others.
The teacher must feel and assume her position as an observer and free herself from being dominant. The key to becoming a good teacher is observation, and there is real hard work that goes into observation. The trained teacher should be able to observe and practice all aspects that have been learned such as the horme, sensitive periods, etc. so as to be able to direct natural energies and allow the child to develop natural potential.
A trained adult provides a dynamic link between the child and the environment. She sets the process in motion but the environment and activities are the teacher. It is the child who is teaching himself and not the teacher who teaches the child. It will thus take a conscious decision to be this adult. And again, it is important to note that materials are not a new means to be placed in front of this teacher. There are objects in the environment that help the child to develop himself. The end product is the child himself. In a prepared environment the teacher is less active and there’s a balance of the child, adult and the environment all supporting one another.
The trained adult is the custodian of this prepared environment, and he must tend to it and pay attention to its beauty, cleanliness, completeness of materials and the way they are presented. At the end of the day, he ensures everything is neat and well positioned such that each morning is filled with new hope and a new beginning for the child. The child is therefore seduced to a place of warmth and once concentration in a child begins, the adult withdraws or steps back. This maneuver fosters independence and grows spontaneity which is love of work.
The preparation of a trained adult is therefore fundamental in ensuring that he remains as a guide. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, the new role of the adult as a ‘directress’ or ‘guide’ is a simple, modest duty, and it is much more delicate than that found in older schools where the material simply helps the children to understand the mind of the teacher. If spiritual preparation of the adult is not real, then role of teaching materials will be lost completely.
Adults must work hard on being able to be self-controlled and not becoming and obstacle to the learning of the children. Anger has no place in a prepared environment as children do not understand injustice; but will only know that something is wrong. Trained teachers must grow sympathy, compassion, charity and avoid pride.