“Mistakes are allowed.”
“Mistakes are learning opportunities.”
“It is okay, really okay, to make mistakes.”
I’ll bet you’ve heard statements like these, but do you believe them? Do you allow yourself to take creative risks, knowing that you might be making a mistake? Do you think innovatively and dare to offer new and different ideas in the workplace? Or do you (like most of us) tend to play it safe by keeping “outside-the-box” ideas to yourself? After all, failure is usually even more unacceptable in the workplace than it was in school, right?
Most of us grew up sitting in classes of 20-30 children per one teacher, looking and listening to the same lesson taught ‘en masse.’ We learned to regurgitate memorized facts and figures, exactly as they were served to us. Whether essay or exam, we were rewarded for thinking conventionally in a conventional school system. We passed or failed. We were right or wrong. And there was rarely any need for independent, innovative, cutting edge thinking or problem-solving. Is it any wonder that most of us continue to stay within the lines as adults?
Now compare this kind of learning with Montessori. In Montessori classrooms, children are guided (or coached if you will) by teachers who observe each individual child and encourage him or her to follow their interests accordingly. Children are allowed to make mistakes during their lessons, which are usually designed to be “self-correctable.” In other words, the children can see the error for themselves, and either figure it out (the true meaning of a learning opportunity) or choose to ask for help. In this way, children learn to think, not just memorize, and gain in both confidence and independence.
Help may come from the teacher or from classmates. Montessori classes are mixed-ages, which give the children an opportunity to learn from one another and to take on the role of teacher. Again, this bolsters self-confidence and helps develop vital social skills.
In Montessori classrooms, homework and standardized tests are rare. Instead of good grades, the goal is personal mastery. Children are allowed the time and freedom to try, try again. They are taught that mistakes are a normal and acceptable part of the learning process. These children go on to become confident, innovative thinkers who are not afraid to try something new just because it hasn’t been tried before.
“Montessori allows for success and failure. She felt that people learned from mistakes. Mistakes are not looked down upon or frowned upon, they are part of the process.” ~Will Wright, creator of Spore and Sim City.
Peter Sims, founder & CEO of Parliament Inc., put it this way: “the Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia,” in this recent Forbes article.
Want more Montessori success stories? Here are just a few: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Nobel Prize recipient Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Julia Child, chef and author extraordinaire.
Would you like your child to have a chance at becoming a creative, confident, unconventional thinker and problem solver? Would you like to learn more about the Montessori method? Listen as Age of Montessori Program Director, Mary Ellen Maunz, M.Ed. and Assistant Director, Randall Klein, B.A. answer questions about Online Montessori Teacher Training and Parent Training Courses.