In Montessori classrooms, we don’t insist that our students sit at desks all day, do the same work that everyone else does, or stop doing things they’re immersed in because a bell rings. Parents unfamiliar with Montessori often say, “That sounds great, but how does Montessori prepare children for the ‘real world?’”
We ask these parents to consider that traditional educational methods were developed during the industrial revolution when students were being trained for work in factories. Students needed to learn how to walk in lines, follow directions, memorize procedures, and start and stop work at the signal of a bell. This is clearly no longer the world in which we live or work.
So what skills are needed to succeed in the “real world” today? Success in the global economy comes from the ability to think, show ingenuity, and take purpose-driven action. Success comes from working cooperatively with others – as well as by oneself. Success comes from the ability to both define and solve the problem. Success results when we persevere in the face of difficulty, and keep trying even when our first (and second, and third!) attempts are failures. Success comes when we have the desire to make a significant contribution.
Daniel Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind, said, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and richer lives. Maria Montessori figured this out a long time ago.”
The structured freedom of the Montessori environment fosters the development of inner discipline, responsibility, and intrinsic motivation. The collaborative nature of the Montessori classroom challenges students to both advocate and empathize, listen and lead, visualize and reflect – all real world skills that will serve them for a lifetime. With a strong foundation in methods supported by scientific research, Montessori education has a clear record of success in preparing students for high school, college, and adulthood.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, explicitly credit Montessori with their success. “We both went to Montessori school,” Mr. Page said, “and I think our success was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world, doing things a little bit differently.”
So we declare proudly, Montessori IS education for the real world!
Learn more about the Maryland Center for Montessori Studies.