Embodied Montessori: Research Links Movement and Learning

**Update 3/29/15** Dr. Beilock has let me know that Schwartz’s article is a response to her book, “How the Body Knows Its Mind”, available at sianbeilock.com.

The Montessori Research Interest Group Facebook page (a project of the American Montessori Society Research Committee) highlights a piece by Katrina Schwartz on NPR’s Mind/Shift blog: Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn. Schwartz is reporting on Sian Beilock’s work on “embodied learning”:

When students use their bodies in the learning process, it can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand.

And then a quick shout-out to Montessori:

This area of study, called “embodied learning,” is not new to many educators. Maria Montessori highlighted the connection between minds and bodies in her 1936 book The Secret of Childhood: “Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.”

There’s more embedded Montessori further down the page: “When kids can explore their surroundings, all of a sudden, things change”—“There is evidence that our ability to use our hands affects the structure and functioning of the brain”.  And under the heading of “Environment Matters”,

Carnegie Mellon researchers recently found that when students learn in highly decorated classrooms, their gazes tend to wander, they get off task and their test scores suffer. Limiting visual stimulus is particularly important for very young learners who are still learning how to focus, and yet kindergarten classrooms are often the most brightly and densely decorated in an effort to make institutional buildings feel more cheerful.

No surprise, really, though. Beilock has been onto Montessori since at least 2012, as reported here on TMO, along with her connection to Angeline Lillard.

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One response to “Embodied Montessori: Research Links Movement and Learning

  1. Thanks so much for this post, David. It fits perfectly with the paper I am writing. It is so excellent and affirming to see the results of current cognitive research supporting what Dr. MM knew, and what we all know to be true!

    Like

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