Infinitas     Tue, Jul 6, 2010  Permanent link
I'm happy to see Maria Montessori here. Having gone through an excellent pre-school through 3rd grade Montessori program taught by some very nice Catholic nuns, it's hard to give this style enough credit. It really is remarkable how early they try to help kids begin to learn, and more importantly, want to learn on their own. It's completely open-ended learning, much like how the Internet has increased our personal yearnings for more information and knowledge. And to give you a more concrete idea of how amazing Montessori programs are, 3-4 of 15 classmates in my 1st through 3rd grade class went on to attend and graduate from Ivy League Universities with another 5 going to other top-tier colleges.

At this juncture, corporate leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Page, and Brin — and all the other engineers operating within this mysterious algorithmic culture whose products we so eagerly adopt, should perhaps be scrutinized in the same way as we probe our politicians.

I partially disagree with this statement. I think that people like Jobs and Zuckerberg are kept in check and criticized moreso than politicians by people under the age of, say, 30. This age group is more "tech-savy" and has a more comprehensive ability and desire to watch what some of the leading tech kings are doing. While the main, "older" working class, who are more affected by political/economic decisions, are more concerned with our politicians. It's vital that the younger population takes an interest in the politics and decisions of today, which I don't think is happening to the extent that it should. This is dangerous because we cannot disregard the duties of our politicians or else they could further undermine the power of individual human beings and their spirits. But regardless of who is probed, both our corporate and political leaders need to kept in check a whole lot more.
rene     Sat, Jul 10, 2010  Permanent link
Since our article is largely about the fact that the engineers who create today's world tend to be more important than politicians, it is interesting to note that

the Communist leaders of China are for the most part former engineers. Rana Foroohar wrote in Newsweek, “China’s faith in its ability to mold markets may derive from the fact that its leaders are mostly engineers, trained to build from a plan. Eight of nine top party officials come from engineering backgrounds, and the practicality of their profession may help explain why they didn’t buy into risky (and Western) financial innovation. These ruling engineers preside over a system that is highly process oriented and obsesses with performance metrics.”
Olena     Wed, Jul 14, 2010  Permanent link
Thank you, Megan & Rene!

I'm curious about the Montessori method...
from what little I've read about it so far, it seems to be primarily focused on young children.
Is it too late for those of us who are older, and have "suffered" a more traditional education?
I'm about to read more about the method, now.
Infinitas     Wed, Jul 14, 2010  Permanent link

I've only heard of Montessori for children. I think it's primarily a way to get young kids to start making decisions for themselves so that as they become older they are more capable of doing things on their own. Let them learn by their own curiosity and not by force, such as a teacher telling you that you must do this and that day in and day out. It's like planting a seed inside a child that gives them a head start in attaining the necessary skills to be a self-empowered person. That head start can be a really big advantage.

We practice the Montessori method every time we act on our will and curiosity to better ourselves.

For us older folks: I don't think professional Montessori "schooling" would really work because why would an institution give us a diploma solely on the basis of trusting that we attained the necessary knowledge and skill on our own under the basic guidance of some professors? I think the better question would be: how much do I have to pay to have the approval (and maybe some insights) of someone more accredited than I am?

Almost everything today is based on our accredited skills we obtained from high school, college, etc— we have a degree that says we have adequate skills in this field. Contrary to this, many of us may spend enormous amounts of time learning a skill on our own accord, which is not openly recognized by society unless proven otherwise through an exhibition of some sort. I definitely see a benefit in merging these two "methods of leaning," but I don't see it happening in our society.
Olena     Fri, Jul 16, 2010  Permanent link
After reading more about the method, I guess you're right... it's not really for adults. But, this
why would an institution give us a diploma solely on the basis of trusting that we attained the necessary knowledge and skill on our own under the basic guidance of some professors?
sounds more like graduate school. Or what I've experienced in art school; it's really up to the individual to take advantage of what's offered... it's great the Montessori does this for children, since that's more true to "real life".

Why do you think it's impossible for our society... even in the future?
Many people are speaking of oncoming changes; maybe this is also one that needs to happen?
This is something I wish I had as a child, but since I can't go back, I guess the next best thing would be to try to give it to others, somehow.
Infinitas     Fri, Jul 16, 2010  Permanent link
Ah very true. I'm hardly an art student so that's certainly something that I clearly overlooked. As for graduate school, I agree and disagree. This Lyons woman didn't need a formal academic degree to study how radio waves affected trees.
Why do you think it's impossible for our society... even in the future?

Maybe I should have clarified my opinion a little better... Not for society in general, but for our society's current higher educational system. With more and more information becoming more easily accessible, people are embracing that Montessori-type of learning on their own. I see this as a growing trend. Also, some research has shown that young people (including myself) are finding it extremely difficult to find job opportunities after completing undergraduate training and also in many cases, graduate training. So I think that this, further reinforced by the worsening economy, is going to cause a decrease in college enrollment in the long run. People are going to rely on a growing status quo of attaining knowledge and skill on their own accord because paying tens of thousands of dollars for "real education" is not worth it. It's like natural selection will be taking back control. I see this as a good oncoming change, in a way, forcing people to empower themselves. Perhaps it will help decrease the educational gap in most of the world?
rene     Fri, Jul 16, 2010  Permanent link
Olena, I love the way you so longingly respond to certain mindsets, like the Renaissance Man idea from my earlier post and now the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori. Both of those subjects are very dear to me, although in the case of Montessori I wasn’t aware of its power for a long time because I went to these schools from Kindergarten through High School (of which there are quite a few in Europe). In terms of education it’s all I really knew. So I was truly amazed to find out that so many key figures behind the Internet are speaking about their indebtedness to the Montessori system, and the same goes for some of the greatest architects. In fact, to the list of graduates in this post you can add architect Rem Koolhaas who I befriended when we were classmates in a Montessori high school. Even though at the time he and I were critical about what we considered the ‘soft” edges of the system (and by extension the school’s students), it nevertheless turned out to be an essential formative experience that is still very much reflected in the way we collaborate with other people and look at the world as some kind of giant experimental sand box where anything is possible and therefore achievable.

Come to think of it, even SpaceCollective has a Montessori feel about it, creating a shared vision that is spontaneously pieced together by many distinct individual voices. Not unlike the Montessori process which, according to Hermann Röhrs was “not conceived as being linear but rather dynamic, exploding with awakenings, enlightenments, transformations and creative syntheses which lift it up to new heights of evolution, the nature of which cannot even be guessed at.”

Sounds just like what we’re doing here!

And with regards to Infinitas’ comment, Maria Montessori said: ‘A person is what he is, not because of the teachers he has had, but as a result of that which he has done himself,’ an idea she called ‘self-creation’. All of which rings particularly true when we recognize that the Internet itself should to some extent be seen as a spin-off of the same kind of thinking that informed the Montessori system.
Infinitas     Wed, Jul 21, 2010  Permanent link
I'm sitting in my "competitive effectiveness" business class right now and we just briefly talked about the Montessori method and creativity among young children. We then watched this excellent (and hilarious) TED video by Sir Ken Robinson about how our educational system is detrimental to creativity and how our educational system is undergoing a big change, specifically in how getting degrees is becoming less valuable.

I highly recommend watching it.
     Fri, Jul 30, 2010  Permanent link
Weren't we discussing at length the idea of starting some sort of alternative education system at some point here? Whatever happened to that discussion?

I've been digging  lately. It makes a lot more sense to be able to navigate through a lecture than it does watching a real one. His vision of the future of free internet-enabled education is really awesome, I just think that his vision's infrastructure could use some aesthetic improvements for it to become more enticing and engaging. He wants to make it a registered school in a bunch of different countries!

I wonder if his idea could be extended to something similar, but where anyone can conduct lessons - I'm thinking something like a browser-based deal where people can record their own lectures in his style, and then have them peer-reviewed, voted up-down, community moderated etc... Something like that could produce some wonderful content.