Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Luca D’Andrea. I was born and raised in Rome, and then went on to study in Via dei Marsi, about 20 metres from the first “Casa dei Bambini” (House of Children). At the moment I am working at Pangbourne House Montessori School in London, as a Montessori teacher, a real community that is focused on building children’s self-esteem, making them feel loved and safe. I’ve realised that the satisfaction I get from what I do is far more than a good salary. Working with children has offered me new challenges on a daily basis and that is why I left my career in academic psychology. I want to do something useful and practical that will help the individual child and the society. In addition, my other passions are cycling, rock climbing, travelling, hiking, being in nature, reading and the cinema.
How did you come around to working with young children and in Montessori?
I have always had a strong curiosity towards life, especially in connection with human behaviour. During my academic career in psychology, I had the opportunity to deepen my understanding and reflect on the society, which led me to wonder about a better future, a social progress. Consequently, I started to value education through different eyes, with hope, realizing that children are our future and they will have a central role in the world. I believed that it was important to provide the right support for their development by giving them the opportunity and trust to be independent and free to choose. Around this time, I had the opportunity to study ‘Child Development’ whilst working as a volunteer in a kindergarten in Italy. This fostered my interest and understanding of the huge potential during the early stages of human development. All of these experiences led me to believe how fundamental it was to give the child appropriate consideration, respect, and trust. It was here that I was inspired by the theories of Maria Montessori (1870-1952). I felt an immediate connection to her revolutionary ideas about the necessity to study and observe the child from their own point of view, recognising the incredible power of childhood. This process starts from birth and evolves through the practice of ‘doing’ rather than ‘being taught’. Consequently, I moved to London after I’d completed my degree in Psychology, I trained as Montessori educator and started working in a Montessori setting.
How has your experience been so far working with young children?
I’m quite proud and probably lucky to have the opportunity to experience and observe on a daily basis how the Montessori philosophy translates into practice. I see how the child through his ‘absorbent mind’, when placed in a favourable environment prepared by an adult, will reveal their true nature as active agents able to live in harmony with their environment. Therefore, I can testify how the features of a Montessori classroom are essential characteristics for the holistic development of the child. Working in a setting allowed me to understand and value how important it is to observe and learn from the child. Observation is a vital tool to identify the child’s individual interests, needs, and next steps. I believe the children will continue to inspire me and help me learn through my daily experience with them.
Can you share with us any Montessori moments that has inspired you in your journey?
Honestly, I find it quite difficult to choose a particular Montessori moment since I can think of so many, starting from my readings, all the studying I did, my daily practice and not to mention all the wonderful people I meet on my journey. However, I believe that in order to achieve social progress, we really need to invest all our resources in our future, that is today’s children. We can start by looking at the child from a different perspective, by trying to understand and respect them so as to be able to learn from them. Our role is to support their growth and development, but not forget that they are capable of thinking for themselves, otherwise history will continue to repeat itself over and over again. So, for me, the Montessori moments that I want to share are the moments of tomorrow, which are the moments that are associated with new children I will meet on my journey and to whom I will give the trust and freedom to choose and grow independently.
Do you have a favourite Montessori material? And why?
I love all the Montessori materials and I don’t have a favourite. The favourite one is one that a specific child chooses at a specific time, from what I have prepared based on my observations of their interest.
Can you share with us a favourite quote?
“If we touch children, we touch humanity. We must educate adults to realise that we can only better humanity through the child. We must realise that the child is the builder of the man.” – Maria Montessori