Freedom and orientation require each other

Efficient and free learning takes place in a balance between orientation and freedom; between chaos and order, between rhythm and spontaneity. Meaningful boundaries and rules provide the protected space in which life can develop freely.

A positive and focused learning environment in the classroom is generated through intense mental discussion with exciting contents and within a climate of awareness and mutual respect.  In order for children to be able to freely follow their developmental needs and interests they need a clear framework on which they can rely on at all times. In addition to trustworthy accompaniment and care, clear structuring of the space and time forms part of this framework. This involves organising the space so that children can find their way around and regular rhythms which, like a heartbeat, constantly pulse. All of these give the child a basic sense of security and a feeling of being looked after.

It is important for children to be able to consciously focus their attention and energy and to generate the will to stick with a task. When a child has found a task which draws his full attention, a strength and determination which can hardly be generated from outside will arise within him.  

Maria Montessori invented the term ‘polarization of attention’:
“(…) for Maria Montessori the ‘polarization of attention’ meant much more than the cognitive process for an increase of the intellectual capacity. She was convinced that herein were found the key to the development of intellectual and psychic powers.  Children who keep experiencing this concentration, discover their own strength, perceive themselves as subjects in their work, are capable of a strong self-discipline and discover themselves” 
(Horst Klaus Berg – Maria Montessori)

In the ‘open learning space’, the teacher has a different task than in an instructive teaching which is teacher-centred. The teacher is an adviser and helper, an expert on some issues and topics and a supporter of the students’ self-directed learning processes. An open learning space needs clear boundaries and responsibilities which can vary depending on the age and capacity of the students. The teacher is responsible for this framework – its freedom and constraints – and for the whole learning process.