by Tony Evans
Economists and educators are at odds over this question. Traditional educational models remain focused on teaching skills and facts that would have been necessary to survive in a pre-technology age. In his compelling article in the New York Times, “Need a Job? Invent It”, Thomas Friedman tells us that the “high-wage, middle-skilled job – the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation,” will no longer be available to our children. The skills that children will need to thrive are motivation, collaboration, executive function, and innovation – skills that traditional education is actually suppressing.
Both research and anecdote show that Montessori environments are fantastic at creating executive function, intrinsic motivation, and community learning. As well, our programs change as the children mature, teaching them these skills in age appropriate ways as their developmental needs evolve.
Medicine, engineering, architecture, business – indeed, every significant non-transferable job has fundamentally changed, yet education has not significantly adapted to better prepare children for this evolving future. Many forward thinking educational initiatives have been tried, but they tend not to transfer from class to class and school to school. They are not wholistic and they are unsustainable through a child’s academic career.
Friedman’s article illuminates the importance of rethinking our values about the purpose of education. These are our children and an education that is fine may not be good enough in an unknown future. Dr. Montessori based her model of education not on her own ideas, but on scientific observations of what children need at each stage of development. Perhaps this is why her method fits in so well with the best thinking on modern educational reform.
What do you think about Friedman’s article? Share your thoughts below.