Reposted from NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog

STEM science technology engineering math montessori method succulent plant
Math and science work harmoniously in nature.

Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the US has called for an increase in scientific and mathematical education. There is currently a movement underway to train and terrain 100,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers. Across the country, there are new standards for STEM subjects, with educators being charged to be creative and engaging rather than just teaching from a textbook.

What does this mean for Montessorians?

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math: Being Creative and Engaging in the Montessori Classroom

Montessori teachers have a jumpstart on their conventional counterparts. Since student engagement is at the forefront of the Montessori classroom, we are already actively engaging students in hands-on learning. Beginning in the Montessori preschool environment, students learn the fundamental rules of math and science through the discovery of natural laws through manipulation of didactic materials and problem-solving with peers. The work engages the senses and ensures the internalization of concepts, not just memorization of disjointed facts and figures. Through the Montessori concept of Cosmic Education, the curriculum reinforces that everything is interrelated; students see how math and science work harmoniously in nature, like in the Fibonacci sequence.

Upper Elementary students dissect a cow heart as part of their studies in anatomy.

On March 29, 2012, the National Governor’s Association issued a brief on “The Role of Informal Science in the State of Education Agenda”. It calls for an increase in hands-on discovery and practice of STEM concepts, something that is already happening across all levels in the Montessori community. It also calls for the use of outside resources such as museums, science centers, and other ‘real-life’ activities that engage and focus student’s attention in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Again, Montessori teachers have been using “going-out” opportunities to pique student interest and foster real-life connections for over 100 years.

An Adolescent student shows one of their chicks to a Children’s House classroom, engaging in cross-level science work.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Co-founders of Google, have said that Montessori education allowed them to think for themselves. They credit Montessori with allowing them to question what was going on around them and to discover the answers for themselves. Former Montessori students, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, and Will Wright, inventor of “The Sims” video game series, also credit Montessori for allowing them to ask questions, discover, and learn on their own terms.

The current STEM movement is calling for innovation, collaboration, and hands-on learning and problem-solving. To the Montessori community, this is nothing new. This is what we’ve been doing all along.