With Yale researching Montessori, I guess Harvard had to get in the game:
First, the topic of the video is Executive Function: Skills For Life and Learning. Executive function (wiki), which comprises planning, working memory, inhibitory control, and problem-solving, among other abilities, is having its moment in the news these days as educators and researchers focus on its importance in early childhood education—the Marshmallow Test being the pop-culture icon for the concept. Montessori Children’s Houses, with their emphasis on order, sequence, limitation of materials, and student-directed activity, are little laboratories of executive function, of course, and researchers have begun to take notice: Adele Diamond, on YouTube and at the Montessori Congress ($10), AMI Trainer Larry Quade, Dr. Stephen Hughes, and even at Harvard.
And that’s the second reason this is a big deal. The Harvard Center on the Developing Child, directed by national child development researcher and thought leader Jack Shonkoff, is so huge, influential, and pervasive in the child development world that it’s hard to know where to start (about, history, FAQ). It emerged from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, now itself a program of the Center, along with the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs and the Global Children’s Initiative among others. Partnered with the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the Center is enormously influential in the development of state and national policies and practices in education and child development.
A lot of important people are going to see this video, and although it doesn’t mention Montessori by name, they are probably going to be able to figure it out. And they are going to see that there’s something really special happening in those classrooms, and they are going to want to know more.
That’s the way to be in the conversation.
Bonus: I learned that the video was shot at Three Tree Montessori in Burien, Washington, for the Washington State Department of Early Learning online training to provide information on executive function. The training course, with additional video, is here. Somehow—I’m still digging into exactly how—it made its way into the Harvard piece.
You’ll notice that Tools of the Mind is mentioned by name in the video, while Montessori is not. A source connected to the video tells me that teachers were directed away from using “Montessori” in their interviews. Interesting.