Can Montessori Philosophy of Education be Extended to Higher Levels of Learning?by the author named below on 05/05/12
Last week I went to my grandson's school. They were celebrating 'Grandparents' Day'. He is 6 yrs old and goes to a Montessori school. During the visit, I was asked to look around the classroom. My grandson was very excited, of course, to give me a tour of the class room, explaining where goes what. After the tour, he showed me what he had been learning at school.
The classroom was organized in such a way that there are work materials distributed around the classroom, arranged according to subject area, for example, math, science, English, geography, history and so forth. Students are free to move around the room, working on what they are interested in. Once they decide, they fetch the work materials necessary for the activity and work by themselves or with another classmate. It is all up to the student. Students continue to work as long as they are comfortable with it, without a time limit. I was really impressed to see the enthusiasm and the focus with which the kids were participating in the activities.
Most of you must have heard of Maria Montessori, and her philosophy of education. It emphasizes educating students holistically. Apart from developing students' intellect and academics, her philosophy also focuses on developing skills of socialization, common sense, practicality and individuality. Students are free to do what they would like in the classroom, within the limits that the teacher has set for them (Freedom within limits). In this method, there are no grades. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher's observation and record keeping.
This made me wonder-could this philosophy of education be adapted at high school and university levels too? Would that make learning more meaningful, allowing students to take charge of their own learning within the parameters set by the teacher? To the extent I am aware of, independent learning/ self-access learning is happening in colleges and universities. An example is cited in my post Anytime, Anywhere Classes: Does a University Need a Campus Anymore? I am sure there are other independent modes of teaching being followed in institutions around the world.
My question now is, can Montessori philosophy be extended to secondary and tertiary institutions? Is this already happening? If not, isn't it worth exploring?