Dr. Montessori talked about her philosophy of education as being “education for life.” What does that mean today? Is a 100-year old approach to educating children still relevant in our fast-paced, ever-changing 21st century world?
The answer is a resounding yes. A recent Gallup study, conducted by Microsoft and Pearson Foundation, identified collaboration, problem solving and innovation, self-regulation and communication as some of the 21st century skills needed. In fact, those individuals who exhibited high development of these 21st century skills were twice as likely to have higher work quality.
Sadly, another finding was that a majority of respondents felt they developed these skills outside of their school setting.
In a Montessori classroom, development of these 21st century skills is built into the fabric of our curriculum. Curiosity and joy of learning are fostered, with student’s passions fueling discovery and exploration. Students take charge of their own learning. They work collaboratively with their peers to uncover solutions. In fact, the process of trial and error oftentimes is the very doorway for finding a new way to approach – and solve – a problem. Our students learn for the sheer joy of learning! A comment from a recent alumni is a testament to this: “I want to know this information because I’m curious, not because it’s on the test.” Not words you typically hear from a teenager!
Our classrooms are learning communities, with students being a vital and integral part of something larger than themselves. Students bring forth their own unique contribution to the community, as well as uphold their responsibilities to their fellow students and teachers. Developing the ability to articulate one’s thoughts and ideas strengthens a child’s confidence and prepares them to be active members of whatever community for which they are a part.
Is this a different approach to learning? Definitely! Is it an approach that prepares children to be confident, successful, responsible contributors in the 21st century?