With school budgets taking a nose-dive, college educations costing beyond what a lot of people can pay and standardized testing (read: Any National standards for education) shown to be detrimental to learning, anything new in education is welcome.
It is hard to call Montessori and Waldorf methodologies new. They have been around for a century. The concept that a child can learn best if left to intuitively figure out the answers has always left most people feeling at best, confused, and at worst, angry. How can a person learn if there is no one to teach them? We observe the best learners have the best teachers.
But the Internet probably changes all of that. Wired Magazine has just published a landmark article about the power of freedom in the learning process. Here is a link to it. I think you need to read this before going on with my assessment.
The writer paints a picture of a destitute struggling border town in Mexico and a classroom of children who have few learning resources and little hope of achieving anything. Many of them are orphans. Their teacher reads up on miraculous teaching methods being done in India where the students are given Internet access and freedom to collaborate in their learning endeavors.
After several months of learning like this, the Mexican teacher’s students are subjected to standardized testing by the national board. When the results are announced, two of the students finish higher in math scores than anyone else in the country. The language scores for all of the students are higher than the national average and exceed any class in the country.
The methods of Waldorf and Montessori have always lacked resources. The Internet changes that. Read the article thoroughly and then consider that perhaps every assumption we have made about any child’s ability to learn has been based on the boundaries and prejudices we take into the process.
Maybe all kids need a new way to think and thus, a new way to learn.