Once considered an educational experiment, Montessori is increasingly becoming the blueprint for a new approach to learning—one that is demonstrating long-term success in both private and public U.S. schools. Montessori’s core tenets, that effective learning is self-directed and that education calls for development of the “whole person,” are shaping a generation uniquely prepared for the demands of the 21st century.
Time Magazine, covering an influential 2007 report on the American workforce, puts it bluntly: “As Americans worry about whether some fraction of our children get ‘left behind’… an entire generation of kids [is failing] to make the grade in the global economy because they can’t think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad, or speak a language other than English.”
And why? According to the report, our educational system is still focused on teaching skills in a world where skills quickly become outdated, automated or offshored-for-less. Value now lies in creativity and innovation, life literacy, global orientation and cross-cultural abilities. The study concludes, “The core problem is that our education and training systems were built for another era. …It is not possible to get where we have to go by patching that system.”
And so it is not.
Montessori is not an adaptation of traditional methods, it is a completely different way of teaching and learning. Many of its core ideas correspond directly to recommendations in this and other studies. It’s an approach that acknowledges it is how—and not what—we learn that most shapes the developing personality. While independent studies show that Montessori students perform academically as well or better than more traditionally educated peers, we believe it’s their demonstrably better life skills that best prepare our young people for a complex and fast-changing world.
Content courtesy of John Long from The Post Oak School in Houston Texas.