Education for the 21st Century
MSB is part of a worldwide Montessori community who believe that all children have an inherent passion for learning, and that teachers have a unique opportunity to fuel that passion into a lifelong pursuit. Rather than view education as something with a series of short-term goals, Montessori exercises a long-term holistic approach.
The results of recognizing children’s inherent strengths and developmental needs, and meeting those needs in carefully designed classroom environments, are students who not only achieve academic excellence, but also students whose creative thinking and self-direction have been nurtured and truly prepare them to meet any future challenge or pursuit with confidence.
Because we cannot predict the skills needed for tomorrow, it is important that our children know how to learn and adapt; we want them to have the ability to analyze, synthesize, and utilize information. The world is rapidly changing. As populations increase, resources become increasingly limited. We are more closely connected and interdependent than ever before in history. Social literacy – understanding, respecting, and being connected to others – is more important than ever; it is what can differentiate employees in the ever changing job market. The future leaders and innovators, the citizens of tomorrow, need to be prepared with a “new” set of skills.
In his book The Global Achievement Gap, renowned author, speaker, entrepreneur, and most recently, the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, Tony Wagner, delineates Seven Survival Skills – the skills that matter most for work, learning, and citizenship in today’s global economy. Each is listed below with examples of how this skill is supported in the Montessori classroom.
1) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Exploration and understanding are emphasized in the Montessori classroom.
Children are given time to think through and absorb what has been presented.
Repetition allows children to engage with their work and find their own solution.
Tools are given that allow children to answer their own questions.
2) Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
Children work in a mixed-age classroom community.
Group work is encouraged and supported.
Cultural studies and global awareness are built in to the curriculum.
Children have opportunities to conceive of an idea then motivate and organize a group of their peers to bring it to fruition.
3) Agility and Adaptability
Children work within a classroom where they learn to manage change and disruption.
They have the freedom to change course or direction: to trouble shoot and problem solve.
Mistakes are a valuable part of the learning process.
Children choose from a variety of tools to find the right material for the problem.
4) Initiative and Entrepreneurship
From an early age children are learning to make choices.
Work is self-directed and projects can be open-ended.
Independence, self-awareness, and confidence are facilitated when the student is involved in self-evaluation
Older children fundraise for and then plan a graduation trip.
5) Effective Oral and Written Communication
Classroom environments are rich in language.
Children have many opportunities to communicate with adults and with each other.
They have continual contact with their peers during their work.
Group work necessitates expression of thoughts and opinions.
Children share their work through oral presentations, skits and plays.
6) Accessing and Analyzing Information
Children utilize a variety of sources of information:
- books and magazines in the classroom
- resources in libraries and museums
- on-line resources that are carefully selected
- information gathered from interviewing experts
There is also an exchange of information among students as well as with teachers.
Children are given time to reflect, digest, sort, and select information.
7) Curiosity and Imagination
Children have the freedom to follow their interests.
The arts and other tools of self-expression are integrated into the curriculum.
The imagination is engaged with stories, charts, and timelines.
The children’s work is driven by questions.
Children have the tools and the freedom to create an innovative work product.