Well, what does this mean? It is easier to see and understand that each child must learn to sit up, crawl, then walk. That each child must learn to distinguish the letter sounds of language. No one gets a pass at jumping ahead of these building block skill steps. When someone learns to walk they can’t simply hand off the formula on how to engage the muscles for walking – each body and brain must do their own work.
It is harder to remember this in the later years of a student’s education. In regards to math education in America, formulas are often given to students who are then asked to apply the formula. One can wonder how giving the formula may circumvent the brain construction process. A recently observed lesson in Upper El illustrates how Montessori education encourages students to construct their own understanding. Using their math computation skills, students engage their math thinking skills by attempting to solve the problem of the week. Individually and in group discussions the teacher listens, guides and wonders aloud with the students on various strategies employed by her students. Sending them back to “the drawing board” after discussions allows them to continue digging as they digest the best way to attack an engaging math problem. Thus coming to understand the math, its formulas and strategies, for themselves.