16 Nov 2020

21st Century Montessori - Part 2

Published by Admin

By Dan Hicks, Education Lead, Woodland Montessori Academy

Imagine this, you're a parent in 2030. You've ordered Deliveroo, and the app says the drone is on the way. As you realise more of the traditional jobs are becoming automated, you wonder what skills your children will need in the 21st Century.

Continuing from part 1, we will look at how Montessori teachers can innovate Dr Montessori's principles and provide students with 21st Century skills.


In a globally connected future, students will need the skills of collaboration to share knowledge and responsibility of tasks. Think of your job today; how far would you get completing projects by yourself? We need to teach these skills for children to go from learning independently to learning interdependently.

It's true the Montessori method traditionally promotes independence. Children are given the autonomy to choose their own work, and they are given their own workspace. Essentially, children are given responsibility for their own individual learning.  However, Montessori in the 21st Century allows educators to design the learning environment to provide opportunities for students to develop this skill of collaboration.

Where the Montessori classroom particularly excels in providing opportunities for collaboration is in its mixed-age setting.  Children aged from 3 to 5 get the chance to work on activities together, allowing younger students to learn through imitation. It also allows older students to tutor their peers, reinforcing their own knowledge. The students then interdependently share ideas to complete the task, whether it be co-constructing a tower from the Knobless Cylinders, or something more complex like adding the number of students in the school with Montessori Golden Beads.

Critical Thinking

The 21st Century has brought unimaginable changes to the world. As the rate of change increases in pace, our students are going to need to be innovative problem solvers. Being able to think critically and solve real-world problems will be an essential skill for navigating the world.

Montessori materials have a built-in Control of Error. This means a student can check their own work. There are several benefits, including help with the child's ability to analyse and solve problems and developing independence, self-esteem, and self-discipline. This sets the foundation for children to solve problems in the classroom and their lives.

In a 21st Century Montessori classroom, real-world problem activities could start with something small, such as matching lids to jars filled with spices with the simple task of "Can you match the correct lid?". Eventually, this can lead to topics that affect the entire world, such as starting conversations about the environment with students leading critical discussions on real solutions.

Check out the next part of this blog to see how Montessori environments develop the essential 21st Century skills of skilled communication and knowledge construction.

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