• Michael Garrett

How Online Learning is Fostering Independence

In most schools, the ability to learn independently is often stifled by the need of teachers to deliver copious amounts of subject content to their students. This is achieved by spending the majority of the school day being taught directly and being told what to do and when to do it in accordance with a structured timetable. Whilst this was fine in the Industrial Age when it was the Government's aim to educate their population to leave school with a recognised paper qualification for use by prospective employers, it certainly is no longer sufficient for the 21st century.

A fundamental principal of Montessori pedagogy is for children to acquire a sense of independence whether this is for caring for themselves or in acquiring knowledge and understanding. In the primary years, this is achieved through a personalised work plan from which the students choose from a variety of independent activities. It is from this they acquire self-responsibility to complete their tasks with the support and guidance of their mentor, at the end of each week.

It is through the use of online learning during the current crises that those students who have not experienced a Montessori education are also becoming used to working for at least some of the time at home, independently. This is fostering their ability to make decisions on their own and to deal with mistakes giving them increasing levels of confidence. It is from this growth mindset and problem solving skills that they inherently learn that is it OK to not always get things right and that often they have try and try again until they find the correct answer. It is from this process they gain immense personal award and value being very different to the instant satisfaction and convenience of today's society.

As the enforced lockdown continues and physical schools remain closed, where once students needed the support of parents sitting by their side whilst they did their work, this is becoming increasingly less important as they gain a greater sense of autonomy, responsibility, self-confidence and time management.

Although the current pandemic has provided a far from ideal opportunity to enforce an educational experiment, it has shown that students are amazingly adaptable and resilient who have been able to learn to use tools and strategies that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity in 'normal' school.

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