Digital Montessori?

Digital Montessori

The texture of the physical world

Montessori education is coming into the digital age.  It has been over two and a half years since Warren Buckleitner delivered a lecture at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester titled What would Montessori Say About the iPad? When Old Theories of Play Meet New Media.  Since then, new Montessori apps have been developed, educators have debated the proper place of technology in classrooms, and school districts have invested millions of dollars in mobile computing for classrooms.

It is no surprise that there has been a debate within the Montessori community as well. The MariaMontessori.com blog wrote, “There has been much talk recently about Montessori-inspired apps…  Some Montessorians are enraged, feeling that the apps violate the very foundation of Montessori pedagogy.  Others love them, and claim that if Dr. Montessori were alive today she would use an iPad in the classroom…”

There is no doubt about the awesome power of technology to be a teaching aid.   Have you tried Khan Academy? And there is no doubt that the hyper-stimulus of electronics can impede the development of qualities such as patience, calm and persistence.   We know that children who overuse devices can lose touch with the texture of the physical world and miss opportunities to interact with people.

At Evergreen, we have been thinking a lot about the role of technology in the Elementary classroom (grades 1-3).  Is it necessary?  Is it dangerous? Is it helpful or is it a costly, flashy distraction?  To help us answer those questions, Mrs. Hatziyannis and I have been test-driving Montessori iPad apps. She is now watching her own children (age 5 and 4) interact them.  She is looking to see if they live up to the words of Trevor Eissler, author of Montessori Madness who said the Montessorium App Intro to Letters “shows how Montessori allows children to be craftsmen.”

In addition to Montessori-specific apps, Mrs. Hatziyannis will be investigating others designed for research and creativity apps for writing, art and music and speech recognition that help students turn their spoken words into type.  In the end, I believe, we will find that there is potential to use iPads in our Elementary classroom– and some real pitfalls to avoid.

It is such an exciting time to be an educator.  Many questions. Many opportunities.

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