Dec 29 2010

Holiday Education Special, Part 3: 100 Years Later, Montessori Method Consistent with Advances in Neuroscience

montessoriOn Monday we heard the story of Sarah Sentilles, author of “Taught by America: A Story of Struggle and Hope in Compton.” On Tuesday, part 2 of our three-part education special was a conversation with Jonathan Kozol on his book The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. Today, as part 3 of our holiday education special, we spend the hour with Dr. Steven Hughes, an assistant professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and President-Elect of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. Dr. Hughes is an advocate of what’s called the Montessori method of education, created over a hundred years ago by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. In the early 1900s, Montessori was asked to develop a curriculum for poor and homeless children in Rome, labeled as “deficient and insane.” Through careful observation of how children behave and learn new skills, she was able to create an environment for learning that enabled the children to pass Italy’s public school curriculum. Considered to be well ahead of her time, many of Montessori’s conclusions about how children learn have been borne out by the latest scientific advances in children’s neuropsychology. A study of the Montessori approach in 2006 published in the journal Science found that children educated in this method fared much better than those educated in traditional schools: “[C]hildren at a public inner city Montessori school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants who, because of a random lottery, attended other schools. By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in positive interaction on the playground more, and showed advanced social cognition and executive control more. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice. At the end of elementary school, Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school.”

GUEST: Dr. Steven Hughes, an assistant professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and President-Elect of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology

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One Response to “Holiday Education Special, Part 3: 100 Years Later, Montessori Method Consistent with Advances in Neuroscience”

  1. Marcella Hernandezon 02 Jan 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I was so grateful for your story. It’s so sad that some of us know what’s right for our children and yet can’t afford to get it. After listening to part of your show (I am downloading it today to hear it in it’s entirety) I am committed to learning more about the Montessori way of teaching and doing everything we can to duplicate it at home. 100% of AMERICAN CHILDREN need this attention. Sonalie; you are changing the world with your program,one listener at a time. Thank you!