Last week my daughter reached an important educational milestone. She walked out the door of the classroom where she spent the last three years. She hugged the teacher that has consistently lit her path since she first dipped her toe into formal schooling as a newly-minted three year old in 2010.
To many, she graduated from kindergarten. To those of us fortunate enough to have discovered the magic of Montessori education, she completed her pre-primary three year cycle. In the fall she will begin her next three year cycle with a new teacher, in what traditional schools would break down into grades 1-3.
In the dual worlds where I live – part Montessori mom and part education innovation advocate – it’s been really exhilarating to see these worlds begin to collide.
Last year, I wrote about the Top Five Characteristics Connecting Montessori Education & The Digital Learning Movement. In that article, I highlighted overlaps that might surprise those that think Montessori education is grounded more in tradition that it is innovation. Among the connections between Montessori education and the shift to digital learning: individual learning progressions, competency-based learning, elimination of grade and age restrictions, formative and ongoing assessments, non-traditional teacher roles and global perspectives.
This week, I was thrilled when a Getting Smart colleague shared The Single Most Innovative Concept in Education Is At Least 100 Years Old. In it, the founders of Baan Dek, a montessori school in South Dakota, write: “This is exactly why the promises of technology are so exciting. Not only does technology offer the potential of limitless scalability, to a degree never before seen, it also offers the hope for personalized learning opportunities. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the ‘adaptive learning’ movement has unknowingly adopted many of the core principles of the Montessori approach to education.”
Get ready Montessorians, because your secret is out.
Reflecting on the impressive personal and academic growth that my own daughter has experienced in her Montessori classroom, it’s easy to see the benefits of an educational philosophy that placed her at the center – every lesson of every day.
Personalization works, my friends. And we’re only just beginning to see the potential of this realization at scale.
My family is fortunate because we live just blocks from Xavier University – an institution with a long and rich history of training montessori educators that graduates enough montessorians to staff a range of public and private K-12 montessori schools in Cincinnati.
There are examples of outstanding schools built on montessori principles that are doing exciting things with learning innovations and technology like Acton Academy.
Sara Cotner recently founded Montessori For All – an organization that is hoping to expand access to montessori education for public school students – whose flagship public montessori school will open in the fall of 2014 in Austin with plans for another in San Antonio.
In 1936, Maria Montessori famously wrote, “Within the child lies the fate of the future.” The future she imagined was one in which the Hoover Dam was a modern wonder.
Not far from a century later, we are only just beginning to discover the potential of the innovative teaching practices of one ground-breaking educator who was looking for ways to serve the needs of Rome’s children of poverty.
Public Impact recently gave credit where credit is due, noting in A Better Blend that “Of course, the idea of student ownership over learning pre-dates the digital age; it has been central to the educational philosophies of Maria Montessori and many others for decades.”
Quite often I’m asked for the proof that the more personalized environment we advocate for really “works” – I always enjoy the the curious looks I get when I tell people we’ve got evidence dating back to the 1930s.