Making the Case for Montessori Education
Children confidently brim with new ideas about challenges to tackle, having learned that failure is acceptable and mistakes are merely learning opportunities.Forbes: Corporate Kindergarten: How A Montessori Mindset Can Transform Your Business
The world is a really interesting place, and one that should be explored. Can there be any better foundation for an innovator in training?Harvard Business Review: Montessori Builds Innovators
Alex Beam writes about famous Montessori alumni, Steven Levy’s new book about Google, and brain research in this compelling argument for Montessori education. As he says, “If Montessori was a stock, you would buy it!”Boston Globe: Succeeding at Their Own Pace
The approach is over 100 years old but the ideas are timeless. The world is finally catching up with Maria Montessori’s insights.Forbes: Is Montessori the Origin of Google and Amazon?
Ironically, the Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia.Wall Street Journal: The Montessori Mafia
The most innovative entrepreneurs were very lucky to have been raised in an atmosphere where inquisitiveness was encouraged… A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity.Harvard Business Review: How Do Innovators Think?
Montessori education provides better outcomes than traditional methods, according to study published in the journal Science.Science Journal: Evaluating Montessori Education
From the latest edition of Science. It’s worth noting in advance that, if one were to design an educational system that were the exact opposite of No Child Left Behind, it would look a lot like Montessori’s approach…The Frontal Cortex Science Blog: "Montessori Works"
You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori kids. In a Montessori school, you go paint because you have something to express…not because the teacher said so. This is baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, why should it be like that? It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.Wired: Article on Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
[Kids] can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than having a teacher explain stuff to you. And when kids discover these things on their own, what they learn sticks with them so much more.Will Wright: Montessori Grad and Creator of SimCity & Spore
Comparing Students’ Academic Achievement in Montessori Environments and Public School Environments
Ervin et al. (2010) performed a three-year mixed methods study comparing self regulation in Montessori and non-Montessori classrooms. The subjects for this study were a cohort group of K, 1st, and 2nd grade students from three public school districts,and one independent Montessori school. In total 127 children in Montessori and 129 children in non-Montessori classrooms were compared. Thirty-three guides and teachersand over 200 parents were included in the study. Results from the study revealed that Montessori children:
- Needed less supervision;
- Were more likely to exhibit feelings of happiness and contentment;
- Were more likely to be proactive in using problem solving strategies when engaged in cognitive tasks;
- Monitored their own learning for correctness;
- Inquired, asked questions, and sought out information when the task was not fully understood;
- Developed internal standards of performance;
- Recognized academic areas in which they performed well and reacted positively to them;
- Recognized the good work of peers and used knowledge for self-judgment of their own performance;
- And Montessori children were enthusiastic and curious learners.
This research study found Montessori children had a higher level of self-regulation and more consistent growth in self-regulation skills, over a 3-year period, than non-Montessori children (Ervin et al., 2010). It also revealed an association between how well children internalized self-regulation and academic success. The researcher represented this finding as follows, “The positive results for Montessori children in rating of self-regulation and academic performance affirm the effectiveness of Montessori classroom practice in fostering positive work habits and internal motivation” (p. 30).
High School Outcomes for Students in a Public Montessori Program
This research study by Kathryn Rindskopf Dohrmann, Tracy K. Nishida, Alan Gartner, Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky & Kevin J. Grimm (2007), tracked 400 students in Milwaukee. Half the students received only conventional, public school education from kindergarten to graduation. The other half attended Montessori schools through 5th grade before transitioning into the public school system. The two groups were carefully matched in terms of gender, ethnicity and family financial status. Comparing test scores and GPA’s at the end of the study revealed the children with some Montessori education not only outperformed the other group in math and science test scores, but also graduated with higher GPAs. The conclusion of the study was that early Montessori education had a long-term impact on later public school performance. At the very least, students transitioned excellently on an academic level.
Teacher as Decision-Maker
Boote (2006) referred to teachers as street-level bureaucrats who decide: What is taught, how (and if) it will be modulated to meet diverse learning needs, how to maintain a productive learning environment, and how to deal with the myriad unexpected events that provide the texture of classroom life (p. 462).
The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s mission statement on developmentally appropriate practice asserts: Expert decision-making lies at the heart of effective teaching…Children benefit most from teachers who have the skills, knowledge, and judgment to make good decisions and are given the opportunity to use them. (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, p. 5)
Both portrayed teachers’ as decision makers with the power to make a positive difference in the learning potential of a child.
Sleeter and Stillman (2007) studied ten experienced elementary and middle school teacher’s responses to accountability reform in a low-performing California public school. The findings of this research revealed teachers used their expertise to make decisions about which standards to emphasize and which to skip altogether. This report revealed teachers made curricular choices about what to teach, even within a planned curriculum. Similar findings were garnered from a study of 45 elementary public school teachers with various levels of experience (Kennedy, 2005). The teachers in this study reported they made decisions about what and how to teach, not only as a result of institutional guidelines and scripted curricula, but also as a result of their own personal beliefs and values. Data collected in these two studies revealed teachers’ continue to have pedagogical power in their classrooms, regardless of the pressures from above.
You can learn more about the Montessori teaching method by visiting these sites:
- American Montessori Society
- South Carolina Montessori Alliance
- SC State Dept. of Education/What is Montessori?
- Montessori Synergies
- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
- Public Charter School Alliance of SC
Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler
The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline S. Lillard, PhD
The Absorbant Mind by Maria Montessori
The Montessori Way: An Education for Life by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein
From Childhood to Adolescence by Maria Montessori
To Educate the Human Potential by Maria Montessori
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control is the Engine of Success by Walter Mischel
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
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Watch Will Wright’s TED talk here.