My daughter will soon be beginning her second year at a Montessori school. While I highly doubt that folks in higher education and MOOC circles have ever reflected on Maria Montessori’s philosophy of learning I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I read today’s intro by Jesse Stommel (Participant Pedagogy). For those of you not familiar with Montessori pedagogy let me give you snapshot.
1. the student drives the learning.
2. the teacher is the guide.
3. the student is also the teacher.
4. the student learns through play.
Here’s what this looks like in the classroom:
1. the student is instructed to choose challenge work. The students makes her own selection from the work in the room. The only limit is if they’ve never done the work before than an older student needs to give them a lesson first. (see point 3)
2. the teacher observes the classroom. This observation is the objective assessment. Is the student learning new things? Choosing challenging work? How might I encourage them?
3. The classroom is intentionally multi-aged (multi-leveled) with older students teaching the younger students.
4. All lessons involve manipulatives. That is things, objects that students ‘play’ with to learn and discover new things. Whether this be multiplication with beads or geography with map puzzles. All lessons are playing/creating.
So learning does not happen simply by reading or reciting or copying. It is participatory. It is peer to peer. It is play.
As was mentioned in an earlier reading, these ideas have a history (if Foucault ran a MOOC). What can we learn from looking at the Montessori Theory for creating more Participatory Learning Spaces?