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What Would Maria Montessori Say About the iPad? Theoretical Frameworks for Children’s Interactive Media

Here’s some Theoretical Frameworks for Children’s Interactive Media. Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning, from the book “Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning” Edited by Chip Donohue.

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INTRODUCTION

On the evening of December 8, 1913, a 43-year-old Maria Montessori gave a talk in New York City following a 14-day trans-Atlantic journey by ship.

She set foot on U.S. soil as a celebrity, in part because of the translation her book The Montessori Method, first published in the United States in 19 by Frederick A. Stokes Company (Montessori,  1964). According to the New York Times coverage of her visit, 1000 people were turned away from Carnegie Hall, where she was introduced by John Dewey. In her closing remarks, she said that she was seeking nothing less than the perfection of the human race (New York Times, 1913).

Today, the same trip takes just 9 hours and there is no fear of icebergs. Transportation technology has certainly changed in this 100-year period. What about pedagogical tools? It is important to consider the historical context of Montessori’s work and this particular visit. She came by invitation of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, who had already used technology to make a mark on the new 20th century. American educators were concerned more with delivering measured doses of curriculum and measuring progress, so Montessori’s child-centric methods must have seemed as radical as the light bulb, telephone or airplane.

Looking back, we know that Montessori’s methods were simply applied theory —  the theory coming from Froebel and Pestalozzi — and they were havi remarkable success with the hardest to teach “idiot” children from the slums Rome. These ideas were easy to contrast with America’s behaviorism-steep curriculum  that  was  strongly  influenced  by Pavlov,  Watson, and  especially Edward Thorndike. We no longer call children with learning problems “idiot: but there still is no shortage of hard-to-teach children who, in Montessori’s wot “have not lived up to their genetic potential.” In 1913, a cultural shift was in full swing, from agricultural to industrial. As with that time, we now find ourselves a cultural shift; from industrial to information, marked by social media and touch screens. The inventions of Edison and Bell have served us well. We’re now dealing with the likes of Jobs, Bezos, Page, Brin, and Zuckerberg.

Read more in the PDF, below…

Buckleitner, W. (2014). WhatWould Maria Montessori SayAbout the iPad? Theoretical Frameworks for Children’s Interactive Media. Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning, 54.

Download (PDF, 538KB)

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