Friday, July 10, 2009

Computers in the Montessori Classroom

Hmmm...this one's tricky. Our school received a computer donation this past year and I've been contemplating its use in the classroom. I've spent some time researching whether or not it's appropriate to have computers in the Montessori primary classroom and I've found mixed results:

Here are the pros:
  • Computers are critical tools of success
  • Individualized instruction with constant feedback
  • Open-ended education
  • Endless research possibilities
Here are the cons:
  • The purity of the philosophy will be compromised by introducing technology
  • Oftentimes, children prefer kinesthetic materials to use and feel
  • Can be used as an escape for children lacking in social or language skills
  • Children can use it for entertainment, or for wasteful activity
  • Can be a distraction to others
Here are some things to consider about software:
  • Should provide an optimal level of stimulation that engages the child
  • Should exhibit a discernable sequence or order so that it makes sense to the child
  • Should be esthetically pleasing, wholesome, pleasing and non-violent
  • Should be process-focuses, rather than product-focused
  • Must contain good control of error
  • Should have multiple levels of difficulty build in
  • Should emphasize internal motivation, rather than depending on external motivation (overplaying positive and negative feedback with loud whistles, bells and grand prizes)
  • Should enhance or complement the teaching taking place in the classroom
Here are some recommended programs for Montessori:
  1. ClarisWorks has a program similar to the Geography puzzle maps.
  2. Bailey's Book House introduces children to initial sounds and other language activities correlating with the Montessori language curriculum.
  3. Talking Number Maze teaches children how to solve problems with equations. Unfortunately, this game is no longer available.
All in all, I think a computer would be an excellent resource for these children who are always seeking answers. However, I continue to feel in my gut that once computer "games" are introduced into the classroom, the traditional materials will begin to collect dust. I can also see a small crowd gathered around the computer watching as Sally makes it to the "next level". And aren't our children inundated with screens and technology every minute of their day? This lack of human interaction does such damage on their brains during this integral part of their lives. I think you can see which way I'm leaning right now, but I certainly do see the importance of young children learning about and using forms of technology.

What would Maria think about technology in the classroom? She was such a visionary, maybe she would use computers to cultivate the child's own natural desire to learn. Any thoughts or ideas?!?

Thanks to Arlene Love and Pat Sikorski for also researching this topic and sharing your finds.

No comments:

Post a Comment