What have in common the founders of Amazon and Google? Why are people with these kinds of abilities and skills leading the way our world works nowadays? How did they become the innovators they are, and what was the environment that helped them develop that praiseworthy way of thinking that is, actually, changing the world? Well, the answer is very simple: Montessori education.
When Maria Montessori created her phenomenal education system and open the first Montessori school in 1907, she had no idea that many decades after, a bunch of people who had the luck of going to schools using her methodology will be ruling the worlds of technology and innovation.
But among all of the fantastic topics and different points of view Montessori brings to the table, we wanted to discuss with you the main aspects of this successful educational method that allowed people like Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and even Gabriel García Marquez change the way we all interact with each other and with the world itself.
Educating for a successful future
Many ask themselves what are the correct elements a classroom needs to have in order to really inspire its students, and also, what are the best ways for a teacher to become a guide who’ll help students strengthen the necessary skills to succeed and enjoy the 21st century.
What we know for sure is that together with the world, students have changed. Today, they are expecting much more, and the need to express themselves within their learning process -while respecting their very own learning pace- is becoming elementary.
The Montessori education has been doing that and much more for more than a century, and today, we’d like to share with you some things you could apply in your own classroom to get close-ish to this kind of education.
Hands-on learning: Autodiscipline and discovery
One of the most important factors in Montessori education is the importance they give to hands-on learning. When our students can actually experience with their own hands their learning process, knowledge becomes easier both to understand and to apply.
Montessori schools have different materials for students to learn different basic areas. Wood materials to learn math, didactic maps to explore geography, and different size wood-made letter for when they are learning to read or write, just to mention a few. The availability of all these elements within the classroom enables the students to just stand up and go learn something new, whenever they want.
This wakes-up their hunger for knowledge and their willingness to keep on, constantly, discovering. It is amazing to see how curious they can become when knowing that -literally- knowledge is right there, waiting for them.
How can you do something similar in your classroom? Allow them to discover and to grab the knowledge in their own hands. There are several tools that can help teachers and educators do this. When you put the focus on the students’ process and personal discoveries, you can let yourself be surprised with the amazing results they will come up with.
Research: When the teacher becomes a guide
Teachers are not in the classroom just to provide students with knowledge. Teachers are there to provide students with skills that will assist them when knowledge is being developed. In Montessori, kids have to research.
When they want to know something or get a deeper insight into a specific topic, they are encouraged to research the subject either in teams or by themselves in order to really comprehend that topic.
But not only that, but students are also encouraged to share their knowledge with their classmates, and to prepare presentations to show their new projects, ideas, assumptions, and approaches. What’s the role of the teacher during this process? Inspiring their students and assuring them that they have all the tools they need to succeed, that everything is possible!
How can you do something similar in your classroom? Allow your students to experience knowledge by being them the ones who led their very own learning process. Let them research subjects they love, because, as you know, it is really important to know how to research, understand, and present.
Reaching their own potential: Becoming the best version of themselves
As we mentioned in the first part of this article, in Montessori schools, kids have the power to decide what they want to learn, and then go to that specific area of the classroom to grab a learning material about that topic.
When we allow our students to explore and to discover different areas, we are allowing them to understand what they love the most, and where their biggest talents are. Of course, all students will have to explore all areas, giving space for the discovery to be deeper and more effective.
Why do we sometimes, force students to love subjects they simply don’t? Why don’t we allow them to explore all areas and then when they do know what they are really good at, give them more tools to strengthen this even more?
Let’s ask ourselves how much do we care about our students’ interests, personal and individual potentials, and the unique skills and approaches of each one of them.
How can you do something similar in your classroom? Don’t forget about Vygotsky! We should never forget that formative assessment is more effective and that the process of each student is extremely relevant. It might sound redundant, but students are not simple receivers of the curricula teachers need to deliver; each student has his or her own dreams, ideas, and potential. It is our responsibility to help them reach that magical place. Only then, they’ll be able to change the world.
Tools for hands-on learning in STEM
As the students have changed, the workforce has changed as well. By 2030, millions of humans will be replaced at their jobs by robots. Therefore, besides giving students the space to decide who each one wants to be, we need to make sure they develop the abilities they’ll need to utilize in just a few years from now.
STEM and STEAM fields are important, but the way in which we teach it isn’t always fun, engaging or effective. That is why CoderZ exists! CoderZ is a gamified, online learning environment to teach STEM and coding with cyber robots.
In CoderZ, your students will be able to practice hands-on learning, to research -and try- different ways to solve problems, and to understand which area, within virtual robotics, they like the most. If you’d like to try it out, register now for a 14-day free trial of CoderZ and allow your students to experience a new way of thinking, and a new way of learning.