BUSINESS | 1/22/2014 @ 5:34AM |9,930 views
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Contributor
The Future Of Education Was Invented In 1906
Wired has an excellent-yet-frustrating story on what they call “A Radical New Teaching Method” that is transforming education. Of course, as the article itself says, there is nothing “new” about this teaching method: let kids figure things out on their own, and they’ll not only learn better, but be more passionate.
The frustrating part of the story is precisely this: they try to connect age-old insights about education to, somehow, a story about techno-utopianism and the internet and technology transforming schools. The great part is the story of José Urbina López Primary School, a very underprivileged school in Mexico where an enterprising professor helped his pupils be among the best in the country by utilizing student-directed methods. This story is inspiring and even, at times, moving.
But here’s the thing: there is nothing new about it.
The piece makes a big deal out of Professor Sugata Mitra, who is famous for the “hole in the wall” experiment: leaving a computer out in an Indian slum for kids to try out, and discovering that the kids figured out how to use it and taught themselves things. I’m sure Mitra is working on cool things, but there is nothing new about the fact that kids will instruct themselves.
In fact, the future of education was invented in 1906. That’s the year Maria Montessori, who was the first female medical doctor in Italy, opened her revolutionary school. People who talk about Montessori education often talk about some of the specifics–no grades, child-size objects, students choose their own activities, the same set of materials in every classroom, etc. but that’s missing the point. Montessori education was so groundbreaking because it was the first (and, to my knowledge), scientific education method. By which I mean the following: every other education method is based on an abstract model of the child and then derives education methods from that. Maria Montessori, a doctor and a researcher, went the other way around: she experimented with methods and, based on the results, built up a theory of the child, which she then tested and refined through experiment.
The reason why everything is the way it is in a proper Montessori classroom is simple: it has been shown through repeated experiment to work, in countless classrooms, across cultures, etc.
It’s precisely this culture of experimentation, of scientific evaluation that is so sorely missing in our centralized, bureaucratized education system, rather than any one specific method or habit.
Meanwhile, it’s because of this scientific character of Montessori education that it produces such excellent results, results that are validated again and again. Dr Angeline Lillard’s work has shown how the most recent science backs up Dr Montessori’s findings–as well they should since they were drawn from experiment.
The future of education is here. It’s got nothing to do with laptops. It was invented well over a century ago. What are we waiting for?
The Providence Comics Consortium teaches comics and cartooning at Community Libraries all over Providence and they publish work by kid’s and comic artists of all stripes!
Quest students created handmade thank you cards that will be delivered to the VA. Parents loaned very special personal items to create a mini-museum for our students to enjoy.
The Toddlers through Middle School learned about Día de los Muertos with food, friends and fun!
Dear Members of the Quest Community,
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Head of School Search Committee, we are pleased and honored to announce the appointment of Michael R. Barclay as the next Head of School of Quest Montessori School, effective July 1, 2014. The Search Committee worked carefully with nationally recognized Montessori consultants to identify Quest’s next leader and, upon doing so, both the Committee and the Board enthusiastically endorsed Mike’s candidacy and voted unanimously in favor of his appointment.
Mike holds a M.A. in teaching from American University in Washington, D.C. and brings nearly 20 years of experience in teaching and education-related positions to Quest. Most recently, he served as Dean of Students at Moses Brown. In that role he was responsible for developing and implementing programs to enhance the overall educational experience, including diversity and character education, as well as discipline, the Upper School Advisory and Middle School Transition Programs, and new student orientation, among others. This experience and level of interaction with students will be vital to the Head of School position.
In his present role as Assistant Head of School at Quest, Mike has been instrumental in growing enrollment, which has doubled under his tenure. He has already made enormous inroads with local stakeholders in our school’s future, such as the URI Foundation, which owns one of the adjacent properties to Quest, as well as town leaders who have been involved throughout the process of Quest’s move to Narragansett. Mike has strengthened Quest’s connections with other independent schools in Rhode Island by building new, long-term relationships with all area feeder schools as well as with those schools in which our students will enroll upon leaving Quest. We cannot stress strongly enough the value he has brought to Quest by facilitating this vital transition for our students.
In both his past and present educational posts, Mike has successfully provided outstanding leadership in all aspects of independent school life. The Quest Board is deeply impressed by Mike’s management experience and collaborative team spirit. He is energetic, approachable, and open to dialogue, in addition to becoming a widely recognized leader and champion of Montessori education. His passion for and commitment to authentic Montessori education, along with his outstanding record of accomplishment, made it clear that Mike has the essential qualities necessary to lead Quest through the next phase of its growth.
Now that Quest has built and occupied our own facility and populated it with an extremely strong and talented faculty, as well as with highly engaged families and students, the Board feels maintaining continuity is paramount. Mike’s commitment to the school’s Ends policy and strategic goals combined with his collaborative leadership style provides Quest with a level of continuity that the school needs and deserves.
Finally, the Search Committee carefully reviewed the community’s input on the Head of School survey. The results were critical to identifying the qualities that the community desired in its next Head of School. These included a commitment to providing an authentic Montessori education, strong communications skills, the ability to develop relationships and promote Quest Montessori both internally and externally, experience and dedication to grow the resources of our school, and the ability to foster excellence and engagement within the school community. Mike has shown himself to be skilled in all of these areas and is humbled by the opportunity to lead Quest:
“I am honored and excited to have been named the next Head of School for Quest Montessori. From the moment Kristin and I met with Paul and experienced the magic of the Montessori classroom, we fell in love with Quest and everything that the community represents. Quest has a very important history that I am honored to carry on and I thank Paul for his dedication in shepherding us all to this milestone. On a professional level, I look forward to working with the dedicated faculty, staff and Board of Quest while building on my own Montessori foundation and independent school tenure to ensure Quest becomes the best Montessori school in Southern New England. And finally, on a personal level, Kristin and I are elated to raise Chase and Greer within this strong and supportive community. As a family, we could not be happier that our future is with Quest.”
As we look forward to the future under Mike’s leadership, we also wish to thank and celebrate Paul Raymond for his eight years of service to Quest. His hard work and dedication have secured a bright future for Quest and our students have greatly benefited from his commitment to authentic Montessori philosophy and practice. To ensure a smooth transition, Mike will work alongside of Paul over the next eight months before taking over as Head of School.
We feel strongly that Mike Barclay is the best candidate to lead Quest into its next chapter. Please join us in congratulating him on his new role at Quest Montessori School.
Head of School Search Committee
Khalil Habib (Chair)