Take the time to visit the website http://www.goodatdoingthings.com/ ! This is the home website of Dr. Stephen Hughes PhD. Dr. Hughes is a neuropsychologist (and yes….I had to spell check that word). It is a fancy name for someone who studies the brain. Dr. Hughes has all kinds of earned titles and letters behind his name, but more importantly, he is a dad. A Montessori dad!
I had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Hughes speak. I was spell bound. Really! I know a neuropsychologist and the brain doesn’t sound like a Friday night’s type of entertainment, but I was mesmerized by what he had to say about the way young children learn, modern brain research, and Montessori.
He talked about the Factory Model of Education, longitudinal studies, performance standards, standardized testing and what all of this tells us about schools in the 20th Century. He proposed a question to the audience of educators and some parents, “What is the goal of schools?” It was an interesting question. He posed the theory that we, in America, need to really define what it is that we want modern American children to get out of school. What does being “educated” mean? Does it mean passing standardized test? Does it mean being compared to a “norm”? Does it mean passing a graduation or 3rd grade reading test?
Then he proposed a school that looks like this:
* Support of self instruction to produce life-long learners
* Teacher acts as a facilitator and guide
* Learning occurs from original sources not textbooks
* Knowledge is open-ended
* The curriculum is integrated (in other words, subjects are not taught in isolation)
* There is a friendly relationship with errors (we learn from our mistakes)
* Learning is NOT limited to the classroom
* The students become the experts-not the teacher
* Student’s interest and motivation are considered and are known to affect behavior (for the better!)
* Students work in collaboration
* There is minimal whole group instruction
* The focus is on the process-the process of developing skills and competencies-not rote memorization for a test
* There are experimental interactions with the environment
* An enriching environment builds better brains
* An environment that allows for movement-there is a direct link between movement and cognition
What type of school does this sound like? Do these points seem familiar? Montessori!
Also, being a neuropsychologist, Dr. Hughes had scientific reasoning to back up each and every one of the preceding bullet points.
Take the time to visit his site. It is worth the click!