Dr. Montessori believed that education should be preparation for life. This includes fostering qualities that would help you use your academic knowledge to be a compassionate and contributing member of the community. The world today is constantly changing, creating new problems to be solved and introducing ideas that were not even imagined a few short decades ago. To help prepare our children, we must help them think and problem solve and know how to effectively process information. Confidence, curiosity, and creativity are three qualities that will position them for success.
Confidence is knowing what you know and what you don’t know, as well as being willing to seek help or additional information when necessary. It is also one result of a growth mindset. In her research, Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, discusses some of the differences between the two paradigms she labels the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. The growth mindset is represented by a willingness to accept challenges and acknowledge that you are capable of learning something you don’t know. To help children develop this ability, we must provide them with time to understand processes as they work through problems, give them the opportunity to evaluate their work, and encourage them to take risks to try and learn new things.
“The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, Clio Press Ltd).
Curiosity is a strong desire to know something and helps us develop internal or intrinsic motivation to do things. When you are curious you can and will work longer and harder on your work because you are interested. George Lowenstein, an economics and psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon, developed research on the gap theory of curiosity. The idea is that when we don’t know something we become curious and want to fill the gap between what we know and don’t yet know. This curiosity becomes like an itch we must scratch and, as a result, we strive to fill in that gap. The Montessori classroom at all levels is designed to inspire curiosity. The mixed age classes give students the opportunity to observe and wonder about work they are not yet doing. The students are given time to wonder in the three hour morning work block. The teachers are trained to give or remove only what a child needs to continue their work of self-construction and learning. This gift is one of the things that helps develop our students into life-long learners, because the more you know the more you want to know.
When speaking about the elementary introduction to the laws of the universe, Montessori stated that as children are given limited information, “… a greater curiosity arises, which can never be satiated; so it will last through a lifetime.”
Creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas. It is a mental exercise used to “see” something that does not yet exist and is a special gift of humans. Acting on that creativity is innovation or invention, a necessity for problem solving in our rapidly challenging world. It is no longer sufficient to teach children how things have been done in the past. We must, instead, challenge them to think, to create, to innovate. The Montessori classroom does this in a variety of ways. The simplicity of the material allows children to explore. The wide range of follow-up work inspires creativity. Children are regularly challenged to see things from different perspectives whether it is long multiplication or the culture of a different country. Creativity takes courage so children are given a safe and supportive environment to try new things.
“Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.” ~ Maria Montessori
Confidence, curiosity, and creativity all work together to help a child become a capable, compassionate, and contributing member of society. Mountain Shadows offers an intentionally prepared environment, including teachers trained in child development, carefully designed material to help the child understand both concepts and processes, and a schedule that enables the child to wonder and explore. Confidence unleashes our curiosity and from our new found information we discover creativity and that is the birth of innovation. Bill Gates is quoted as saying “I believe that innovation is the most powerful force for change in the world.” We know that power is held by our children so we must prepare them for this challenge by supporting their development of confidence, curiosity, and creativity. You can be confident that by choosing to put your children in Mountain Shadows Montessori School that they are having the chance to develop CONFIDENCE, embrace CURIOSITY, and practice CREATIVITY.
“The child is both a hope and promise for mankind.”
Liana Oram, Head of School