Dear GMS Community,
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a contributing writer to Forbes On-Line Magazine, recently wrote about how the Future Of Education Was Invented In 1906. He began his piece reflecting on a school in Mexico wherein the students from “very underprivileged” homes are doing remarkably well in an environment that is “utilizing student-directed methods” including laptops. He went on to say that even though such seemingly revolutionary teaching methods are being used and enhanced by what he calls “techno-utopianism and the internet and technology transforming schools”, that what we are missing is that such revolutionary methods actually began in 1906 when Maria Montessori opened her first Casa di Bambini in a poverty stricken area of Rome.
I believe most Montessori educators will agree that classrooms wherein children are encouraged to be self-directed, can choose their own activities, have readily at hand sets of fabulous materials by which they can make their own discoveries without interference from adults, and have adults guiding their learning vs. telling them what to do yield students who are independent, eager to learn, willing to help others rather than being in competition with each other, and who actually think critically.
Gobry attests to the fact that from the beginning, Montessori schools are based on a scientific approach. That is to say, Montessori looked at children as organisms worthy of deep study to determine how best to serve their educational, social, and emotional needs and how to develop materials for them that lead children to discover facts and experiment with concepts. It is experimentation that brings children to know what they know and how to apply knowledge to other venues outside of the classroom. Children educated in a Montessori environment do not study in order simply to respond to questions on a standardized instrument, rather they study to learn and apply knowledge.
Says Gobry, “It’s precisely this culture of experimentation, of scientific evaluation that is so sorely missing in our centralized, bureaucratized education system, rather than any one specific method or habit.” He states that, “it’s because of this scientific character of Montessori education that it produces such excellent results, results that are validated again and again”. He refers his readers to Dr. Angeline Lillard’s work, “Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius” as a treatise worthy of examination by anyone interested in how Montessori works and why there is nothing new in what we are seeing in the popular press.
He ends his piece with this wonderful statement: “The future of education is here. It’s got nothing to do with laptops. It was invented well over a century ago. What are we waiting for?”