Crossing that midline debunked! Growing those myelin sheaths does or doesn’t increase cognition!
Talking to students in my class can be an exercise in neuroscience because we’re growing the connections in our brains every day. My students start the morning finding the work that will warm them up for the day: reading, a math warm up, vocabulary work, even looking at their personal work plan to mentally prepare for the day.
We choose our own work at the beginning of the day, even before our morning circle to help get into the groove and provide children with a start to the day that will be most relevant to them. Relevance to the child, or affect, is the first aspect of Universal Design for Learning, a catch phrase for something Montessori knew a long time ago: the brain affects learning.
Montessori knew form observation that children learn better from peers and that their learning is more relevant when they care about it, can learn and express knowledge in the way that is most meaningful to them, and that even patience grows over time. As with so much of what Montessori observed, we’re learning through modern neuroscience that children do indeed grow patience through practice (think of the maps and slowly moving cards across the mat), crossing the midline increases the myelin coating the nerves across the corpus callosum in the brain and makes accessing information faster (increases cognition), and learn the expected foundational understanding by both learning through what we love and expressing that newly gained knowledge in a way that is meaningful to the child.
As neuroscience debunks the way that different information has been applied (think Lucy Calkin’s work and “educational kinesiology”), we find that Maria Montessori’s observations endure the test, and teases, of time.