The Lyceum was the school founded by the Macedonian philosopher, Aristotle, in 335 BCE. Here, he and others lectured in the mornings according to a pedagogy differing strongly from his teacher Plato in that he believed learning was best accomplished from the bottom up rather than the top down--abstractions from concretes, through cooperative research rather than lecture and argument. In short, he believed that learning was an individual process of discovery in which difficult abstractions were pieced together from direct experience in the real, concrete world, and not vessels to be filled with abstract wisdom, poured in through lecture and argument.
At Little Lyceum Montessori, we apply Aristotle’s approach to learning to the young children in our care. As Montessori believed, “what the hand does, the mind remembers,” and through our carefully chosen didactic materials, and unobtrusive, observant, directors and directresses, the child, with independent mind and chosen purpose, will find the world unfolding before him. With “cooperative research” between the child and adult, the child will not “learn” so much as discover the nature of the world in which he lives.
Aristotle’s followers were called Peripatetics, due to his tendency to “walk” while he “lectured”. We hold, as Aristotle did, that children are not disembodied minds or empty vessels, but are equal parts body and mind and should be treated as whole, integrated individuals, absorbing through the senses of their bodies and forming concepts through the application of reason to the information they gather in the world.