Technology in education is a hot topic. How much technology should be included? What level of proficiency do students need to have with technology? How does learning through devices impact students on an intellectual, psychological, and interpersonal level? Technology is being integrated more and more in public classrooms. And, the need for distance learning has prompted many school districts to put additional resources into technology and make it a more central element of education. There are many things that look different in the Montessori classroom when compared to public programs. The way that technology is integrated is one of those differences.
How was technology used in the beginning of Montessori education?
When Maria Montessori was developing the Montessori Philosophy of education, the technology that she had access to was nothing like what is available today. She developed the Montessori Method over a century ago, which means there were no computers, internet, or handheld devices to integrate into the classroom. Modern Montessori programs can, however, look at the core tenets of the Montessori Method and get guidance on the appropriate use for technology. When Maria Montessori developed the Montessori Method, she put a strong emphasis on hands-on learning. For example, having a child hold a real flower and learning about the various parts of it is preferable to looking at a diagram of a flower than on a piece of paper or a screen. Understanding that the foundation of Montessori education is hands-on learning helps Montessori programs determine the level of technology that is appropriate in the classroom.
Is any technology integrated into Montessori learning?
Most Montessori programs do integrate some technology into the classroom. As students get older, they will encounter technology in other educational settings and likely in their work. One of the overarching goals of Montessori education is to prepare students for success in life. Since some familiarity with technology is important for success in life, many Montessori programs include technology in the curriculum. However, the use of technology is approached differently than it is in most public programs. The integration of technology in the Montessori classroom is done carefully and thoughtfully. Students are not taught with devices but rather have limited access to devices to use as supplemental tools to their learning. Technology in the Montessori classroom is a tool but not a central element to the curriculum. Hands-on, real-world learning is always preferable to learning something by looking at a screen.
As technology becomes a more and more prevalent part of our lives, there is value in carefully monitoring the use of technology in the classroom. Students in the Montessori classroom cannot pick up a device every time they do not know the answer to a question. Instead, students are expected to put in the work to learn the answer through exploration and collaboration. Students learn important skills such as perseverance, creativity, and how to work with others when they are faced with the challenges of finding answers without the convenience of a search engine. In the Montessori classroom, the focus is always on providing students with learning opportunities that will help them be successful in life. The level of technology integrated into the Montessori classroom is kept low to ensure that students develop the skills they need to face a variety of situations as they grow and continue to learn.