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Could technology ever be part of Montessori education?

This post was originally published on July 10 2017 in Education Technology.

For over a century, the Montessori method of education has given children and adolescents all around the world increased chances of living a successful adult life. This is the main driver behind the entire idea of education, but Montessori seems to have better results than standard education does.

There are a few factors that contribute to this.

Firstly, there’s the student-centered approach to learning. Everything that happens in a Montessori setting is designed based on the premise that students are naturally curious about the surrounding world and they want to learn and discover new things every day. There’s no need to force them to learn - they do it because something sparks their interest. They don’t need incentives such as stars, ribbons or trophies, nor do they need to be punished if they don’t want to learn about something. They don’t have to worry about homework, tests and grades. Any activity they engage in is their choice and they learn to be responsible for what they choose.

Then, there’s the role of the teacher as a guide, not as a superior guardian of knowledge. Children don’t need to be lectured at the time, place and on the terms most convenient for the teacher. Since Montessori is a student-centered approach to education, students are the ones who require the attention of their teachers, on their own terms. Teachers move around the classroom and oversee students’ activities, only intervening when their insight and guidance are needed. They introduce new concepts and challenges for each student after determining the best moment to do so, not beforehand. A Montessori teacher encourages students to discover new things and develop self-confidence.

Last but not least, there’s the prepared learning environment. All objects in a Montessori classroom are there because they encourage learning in one way or another. Natural and organic materials are preferred over industrialized ones. Nature itself is sometimes the host of learning activities. Otherwise, the learning environment is clean, ordered and structured in such a way that children should find it warm, safe, appropriately sized and visually pleasant. In other words, we’re talking about a beautiful learning environment.

As the official Montessori index puts it, the Montessori educational practice helps children develop creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, time-management skills, care for the environment and each other. It prepares them to contribute to society and to become fulfilled individuals. The Montessori method of education is a holistic approach to learning, which emphasizes active learning, independence, cooperation and instruction in harmony with each child’s unique pace of development. The video below explains the concept in a comprehensive manner:

If you do more research into the Montessori approach to education, undoubtedly you’ll come across the many ground rules for classrooms or how lessons are structured. What will also become blatantly clear is the belief that technology has no place there!

A Montessori learning environment is like a hundred years away from the fast-paced, technologically-enabled lives we and our children live today. That’s because it actually is.

Doctor Maria Montessori did not include technology in her educational methods because there was barely anything resembling that to be included. She put the basis of this method of education in the year 1907. The technological advancements of today are mind-boggling compared to those from over a century ago.

Technology has played a crucial role in how education has developed over the years and will continue to be the driver of educational innovation.

Many educational institutions have introduced Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and work with technology on a regular basis. Educators already have a plethora of choices when it comes to using technology at school to enhance the learning process of students of all ages. Teachers are flipping their classrooms, experimenting with gamification techniques, using apps in classroom activities, or keeping track of student progress through a school learning management system.

Who knows what the next 10 years will bring along in terms of ed-tech innovation?

Children today are surrounded by technology, just like they are surrounded by nature. Therefore, why shouldn’t technology be integrated into the incredibly successful method of education that is Montessori?

Above the student-centered approach to learning, above the role of the teacher as a guide of learning and above the prepared learning environments, stands the essence of how Maria Montessori envisioned education: children should be able to explore their world freely, to understand and respect all aspects of it

If technology is part of our children’s world, why should it be overlooked in their learning process? What if a blend between the Montessori approach to education and technology could be key to ensure that our kids have the best chances of living a successful life?

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