Montessori Matters has said it better than I could in her response to the New York Times article on “new” research showing that young children can learn complex math. OK, so she too is having trouble keeping the snarkiness under wraps, but it’s hard not to feel frustrated when the educational establishment gets all excited about “discovering” something you could have told them any time in the last century. (I, personally, could not have told them, but Montessorians around the world would have been happy to share.)
I also have to add that I’m disturbed (though not surprised) that the preschool math programs described in the Times article seem to do little to rethink the “okay, it’s math time, everyone sit down and listen to the teacher” model of teaching and learning. It would be fascinating to see a study comparing the (strictly math-related) outcomes of a Montessori preschool education and a Building Blocks classroom. Of course, it may be that both approaches are equally good at teaching children math concepts, but Montessori is about developing so much more than an early start on the three Rs: independence, kindness, concentration, curiosity, self-control. I imagine it’s in these areas that the real differences between the Montessori classroom and the Building Blocks classroom would show.