21st Century Montessori - Part 3
By Dan Hicks, Education Lead, Woodland Montessori Academy
Imagine this: It's sometime in the late 20th Century, and you're back in school, sitting on your individual desk with a teacher regurgitating facts at you. It's now cemented in your brain that the battle of Hastings was 1066! Without speaking, you write your name on the top of your worksheet. Question one: What year was the battle of Hastings? Your mind starts to wonder. Is this what your children will be doing in school?
Continuing from part 2 of the 21st Century Montessori series, we will see how Montessori classrooms use activities to engage students in developing 21st Century skills.
There are over 7 billion mobile phones in the world. In the past 20 years, the way we communicate has completely changed; all we need is a device and internet connection and away we go! Being a skilled communicator no longer means being able to hold a one-on-one conversation but being able to share thoughts and ideas across many mediums.
Many people said Dr Montessori was a hundred years ahead of her time when she opened the first Montessori school. Still, she couldn't possibly have fathomed that we could connect with someone across the globe in a millisecond. However, she showed incredible foresight with this quote:
"…we must begin our work by preparing the child for the forms of social life, and we must attract his attention to these forms."
Modern Montessori classrooms are increasingly engaging students with different forms of communication. For example, Flipgrid; the app Woodland have been using for Home-Based Learning. Using this app, Montessori teachers can demonstrate an activity via this app and encouraging students to respond with pictures and videos. This gives new meaning to the notion of extending the walls of the classroom to link with the outside world.
The 21st Century is an information overload, and the fact that you might remember what year the battle of Hastings was might only serve you well in a pub quiz or as a humorous line in a blog. Nowadays, if you're asking someone when the battle of Hastings was, they can Google it. With the advent of search engines, facts are easily accessible to everyone. Still, the skill of knowledge construction allows students to use information to construct their own understandings.
This is an area Dr Montessori advocated sincerely in her schools. Children in the Montessori classroom can explore their interests and construct their own knowledge with the teacher taking an active role in guiding children instead of filling their heads with facts.
Knowledge construction continues to prevail in the Montessori classroom; the natural progression of activities allows students to grasp concepts and ideas to deepen understanding of a concept. Activities prepared by Montessori teachers in the 21st Century will not only build knowledge but provide the opportunity to apply knowledge in a new context across multiple subjects.
Now imagine this: The 21st Century is in full force, and your child has just finished school. Maybe the job you envisioned for them will eventually become automated. Perhaps they couldn't answer which year the battle of Hastings was fought off the top of their head. It doesn't matter. It is more important to know that your child has been provided the foundations of the 21st century skills needed to flourish in a persistently changing and globally connected world.