OK, this is interesting.
Intelligent conservative business and economics writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gorby has a great piece up at Forbes, The Future of Education Was Invented in 1906. It’s a take on a Wired article from October about a “radical new teaching method”: self-directed learning. Only, as Gorby points out, there’s nothing new about it.
And here’s the part I really like (naturally!)—he lays out really clearly something I’ve been saying all along, an insight at the core of what makes Montessori special:
Montessori education was so groundbreaking because it was the first (and, to my knowledge only), scientific education method. By which I mean the following: every other education method is based on an abstract model of the child and then derives education methods from that. Maria Montessori, a doctor and a researcher, went the other way around: she experimented with methods and, based on the results, built up a theory of the child, which she then tested and refined through experiment.
The reason why everything is the way it is in a proper Montessori classroom is simple: it has been shown through repeated experiment to work, in countless classrooms, across cultures, etc.
Preach it, Gorby! At the core, it’s not what we do that makes Montessori special—it’s why we do what we do.
Now, Gorby is definitely a voice from pretty far outside of the Montessori movement. He’s a staunch conservative business and economics-oriented thinker and writer, and a committed Catholic. He would be at home in some segments of the Montessori world and an unlikely guest in many others. All the better! The more smart, connected, articulate people talking about what really makes Montessori tick, the better.
More on Gorby: His Forbes bio can be found here, his eminently sensible and (and decidedly non-mainstream conservative) take on public debt here, his take on French parenting and education here. Finally, his Amazon book reviews, including excellent 5 star reviews of Montessori books here.