I recently read an article about the developers of Montessorium, who introduced Montessori applications for the iPad. It reminded me of the controversy surrounding the use of technology in the Montessori classrooms.
Both sides of the argument try to deduce what Dr. Maria Montessori herself would think about the internet and computers in the classroom. None of us will know for sure what Montessori would do if she were alive today. We do, however, know that Montessori was a trailblazer of her time. Not only did she, a woman in the 1800’s, pursue higher education; she went on to become a renowned physician. Montessori also dared to reject convention and social norms. Through her scientific observations of children, Montessori discovered that children are naturally inclined to learn and they do so by interacting with their environment. This was a radical departure from previous understanding of how children learn.
It is safe to say that technology is an integral part of our daily lives – keyboarding is a practical life skill! Being an innovator and a scientist, Montessori would have likely embraced new inventions and implemented them strategically in the classroom.
When used correctly, technology is a powerful and creative educational tool, which can transition the classroom materials from concrete to abstract. Of course, it is not age-appropriate for a toddler to spend time on a computer- this is the age where children require concrete materials and human interaction. However, for the Kindergartener transitioning to more abstract thought processes, it may be suitable to work with a 2 dimensional form of the pink tower. Technology isn’t just computers, it can also be digital photography and keyboarding. It is used just like any other material in the classroom. The child must first master the previous hands-on lessons and then be given the opportunity to use the computer.
The beauty of the Montessori curriculum is that it is dynamic, and as teachers we must strive to meet the needs of the child. These days, children seem to instinctively gravitate toward technology; therefore, we cannot shy away from it. Instead, we use technology to enhance our curriculum. When implemented correctly, new technology is beneficial and a great aide to learning in the 21st century.