Education based on Self-Directed Learning

Montessori education surrenders to the child’s inner learning guidance. In Montessori-schools children experience an emergent academic curriculum as they follow their inspiration to learn at their own pace, in a very active way – having at their disposal a multitude of intelligent hands-on learning materials.

Montessori-education is still revolutionary in the regard of allowing the child self-directed learning, choosing activities and moving freely in an inspiring intelligent nourishing environment.

I feel that ultimately academic education needs to surrender to the inner guidance of a child. Children accustomed to listening to their own needs and interests from an early age on, know what they need to learn at the moment. As Maria Montessori puts it: The children’s “absorbent mind” is activated and they follow their inner guidance expressed through sensitive periods and stages of development – the periods when a child is particularly open to learning specific things, like e.g. writing, reading or subtraction. When we as educators flow with the absorbent mind, most learning disabilities and blocks can be prevented. The intellectual learning process needs to grow from the child’s genuine interest, will and love to learn, in order to keep the joy of learning alive.

Lessons can be taught in schools based on self-directed learning as well: The only requirement is that a child has the ability to choose if he or she wants to participate in the moment in that group activity, or if he/she wants to follow their inner learning guidance and personal projects in a thoroughly prepared learning environment.

However, children need and enjoy the educator’s guidance when learning social rules, i.e. learning how to be a friend, or how to feel welcome at a dinner table with guests. Healthy boundaries are not obvious; they change from family to family and from culture to culture. A child needs to be introduced step by step to what is expected from him or her, and patiently reminded as often as needed.

Free choice concerning the intellectual learning process and compassionate and firm guidance when learning healthy boundaries is a great combo when helping a child develop on the journey towards an intelligent loving Human Being.

Let’s enjoy every step of it!
Carmen Gamper

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