Teaching Digital Citizenship, the Montessori Way
Montessori Education, at the middle school level, focuses on hands-on, experiential learning, driven by a student’s innate desire to understand and find their place in the world, and to blossom into global citizens. Students practice asserting their cultivated independence in order to make the gradual transition from childhood to adulthood.
Sounds beautiful, right? It truly is.
Digital Citizenship Education, though quite new in comparison, dovetails nicely with the pedagogical methods created by Maria Montessori just over a century ago. In fact, the Montessori model is an ideal environment for raising human beings to be ethical, safe, balanced, and knowledgeable Digital Citizens.
From what we now understand about the urgent need for media literacy and digital citizenship education in schools, Montessori schools have a unique opportunity to lead the way in this important aspect of youth education, while using their tried and tested pedagogy as a vehicle. Here’s how:
Learning by experience: Montessori education does this better than most! Helping kids learn how to use technology offline first, ensures that they will use it well when they do go online. A perfect example of this is by letting students practice commenting respectfully to one another's blog posts by placing “comment sticky notes” on them as seen here.
Grown-ups as guides, not as “the holders of knowledge”: In quality digital citizenship instruction, teachers are listening to students as much as the other way around. This is, in essence, the nature of the Montessori student-teacher relationship! Students often come to their own conclusions about what is healthy, safe, ethical, etc. if only we are able to give them the space to be heard.
Focusing on the good in the world, and being an agent of change when called upon: In order for students to know how to be “upstanding citizens” in the digital world, they need examples of goodness, but also of people who righted wrongs when it was necessary. These biographical tools of the human experience are a common thread in Montessori middle school education.
With increased independence comes increased responsibility: The hallmark of a Montessori education is the cultivation of an independent thinking human being. Because most technology use and media encounters for young people happen in an independent way (ironically, called social media), we need to raise our young people to make quality, independent decisions that reflect care for ourselves, others, and our environment.
The Montessori model holds a student’s individual learning experience with reverence. It is a sacred and independent journey to which we, the teachers in the classroom, have the privilege to witness and facilitate.
The Cyber Civics curriculum offers flexibility and options for how concepts are taught, including many adaptations that suit the Montessori method of education for middle school-aged students, while providing a structured, comprehensive media literacy curriculum.
In fact, in recognition of the unique nature of Montessori education, and that often "plug and play" curricula don't meet the independent learning plans for students, we are excited to share some resources including rubrics, work planners, and project planners that seamlessly integrate Cyber Civics curriculum for Montessori classrooms. (Ask us to see them: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are you interested in bringing media literacy or digital citizenship lessons to your Montessori learning environment? Contact our classroom specialist below, trained in Montessori methods, to see how our curriculum can support your students.
Soni Albright is an administrator and educator with decades of experience in the classroom: public, private, Waldorf, Montessori, co-op, and homeschool. When she’s not at school you can find her painting, chalk-drawing, knitting, or learning about Discord with her own Digital Citizens. Contact her: email@example.com