How Montessori Education Encourages Independent Thinking

Learning to think is not the same thing as learning to memorize.  Thinking requires infinitely more effort and involves much more brain activity than reciting something back.  Thinking involves inquiry, innovation, creativity, analysis, synthesis, problem solving, persistence, self-confidence, self-motivation, independence and even courage.  That is why the emphasis in a Montessori classroom is on children learning rather than teachers teaching.  We strive to foster independence and joyful discovery that naturally leads to greater learning and retention.

The world is changing in such a way that more than ever the children of today will need to be able to think for themselves. Rote learning will simply not prepare children for the complexity and fast paced change that tomorrow is sure to bring.  We need them to be able to think for themselves.

The entire structure of the Montessori system from the curriculum, to the way the classroom is set up, to the specific ways in which the teacher interacts with children, is designed to prompt and encourage children to think for themselves, to discover, to make mistakes and learn from their own mistakes.  The teacher in a Montessori classroom is as much a guide as a teacher, keenly observing each child’s interests, and abilities and prepared and ready to introduce the next series of lessons when a child shows he or she is ready to move onto the next level.  Montessori materials are themselves designed to allow a child to recognize when something is not correct, and to correct it themselves.

Within a typical Montessori preschool/kindergarten classroom there well over a hundred different developmentally appropriate learning activities; each one presenting abstract ideas in concrete form.  The depth and breadth of the curriculum allows the Montessori teacher to adapt to address the unique needs of the children in his/her class.  The Montessori teacher further enhances the environment by bringing in a variety of additional lessons to pique the curiosity of the students in his/her particular class.  Learning is individualized so that it fits the pace as well as the interests of each student.

Because there is not a rigid one-size-fits-all lesson plan for each day as there is in a traditional school setting, the Montessori teacher is allowed the freedom to meet the particular needs of his/her students.  The emphasis is always on keeping alive the spark of curiosity, supporting and encouraging independence and nurturing each child’s inherent desire to learn.  In this way we work every day to support our students on their journey to think for themselves.

You may be interested in reading the following articles and viewing the below TED talk on the topic of independent thinking and preserving and fostering the creativity every child is born with:

Discovering a natural way to learn | Karin Ann | TEDxHongKongED 


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