Vietnam’s first Montessori secondary school

Maya School in Hanoi's Thach That District is the first primary and secondary school in Vietnam to employ the Montessori teaching method, focused on building student independence.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

With many of its buildings constructed from natural materials like laterite, clay, bamboo and wood, the 10-hectare campus in Dong Dau Village, Tien Xuan Commune, 40 kilometres from central Hanoi, was built on a hillside in 2018, with primary- and secondary-grade classrooms, ateliers, sports fields, canteens, as well as a farm.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

Three structures designated for secondary students, each with three connecting buildings, were built primarily from laterite. Inside each, there are specialized classrooms for each subject, ranging from math, ICT and science to music.
The school’s design resembles an international university rather than a traditional Vietnamese primary school.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

All of the school’s buildings reflect its educational philosophy, with human beings an integrated part of nature, said Nguyen Thi Huong, Maya School’s architect.
I"f we live in harmony with nature, the quality of our lives would improve. Therefore, the buildings are all made from natural materials like laterite, clay, bamboo and wood, with all the roofs covered with thatch. The school even diverted paths to preserve the campus’ natural big trees," Huong added.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

Specialized for a designated subject, each classroom has a special design. For example, the literature classroom, also the newsroom of the Maya Time journal and Vietnamese Language Club room, has rows of books, with many detachable tables to organize according to the club’s activities.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

Inside the ateliers, with thatch roofs, bamboo pillars and clay walls, students can join the in-charge teachers to produce wooden objects like tables and chairs. The atelier has many windows to utilize the natural light.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

The dining room is an open space with no separating door from the outside, with the whole structure and furniture made from bamboo, wood and natural leaves. With the exception of heavy rain or freezing weather, students have meals in this area every day.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

Opposed to more senior students, primary learners attend classes in stilt houses with three rows and two storeys. Students from Grade 1 to 3 study in the same place. It is similar for Grade 4 and 5.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

The unique feature of the Montessori educational space is the tall windows, usually from floor to ceiling. These windows open up the classroom’s space, enhancing the students’ vision of the outside to stimulate their imagination.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

The tall-window design also helps students with many classroom experiments.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

The visual atelier is based inside the primary school’s building, with most utensils, beside electric equipment, made from bamboo and wood.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

The hallway of the primary-school building is decorated with paper lanterns, which adds a much more cosy feeling, compared to traditional Vietnamese schools.

Hanoi, school, Montessori, nature

Blanketing the main buildings are greenswards, fruit and natural green trees, along with a plant farm, which also serves as the ground for students to interact with nature, an embedded component of the Montessori education method.
Maya School is currently teaching about 150 students from Grade 1 to 7, with a capability to enrol up to 50 students per grade. In the near future, the school will also incorporate high-school levels.

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