Education for Life:
Why Montessori is Probably
Humanity’s Only Hope
What Contemporary Neuroscience Tells us About What Living Things Need to Survive, and Why Montessori Education is Probably Humanity’s Only Hope
This series of lectures is designed to acquaint attendees with current theoretical neuroscience research showing how the brain operates as a kind of hypothesis-generating prediction machine.
It will address the interplay between top-down "cognitive" processes and bottom-up information from the senses. It will explain why evolution shaped the brain to operate this way, and how, even in the modern world, these foundational mechanisms still exist to guide our growth and behavior.
This understanding of the brain is fascinating, and once this method of operation is understood, one begins to see the importance of the method of facilitated growth that characterizes the Montessori prepared environment and ethos.
Ready for the Revolution?
5:00 - 6:00
Humanity is facing a time of unprecedented change and upheaval. Entire ecosystems hang in the balance, as climate change irreversibly alters coastlines, countries, and cultures. Children born in the 21st century face political, climatic, and cultural changes on a scale that was unimaginable a generation ago. To deal with the challenges ahead, governments around the world must prepare young people to innovate, adapt, and cooperate in completely new ways, and no one has any idea how to do any of this.
Well, almost no one.
In fact, over a hundred years ago, Dr. Maria Montessori did know how to prepare young people to innovate, adapt and cooperate in completely new ways. She was ahead of her time, and conventional education still did enough for enough people, so while her revolutionary pedagogy gained ground and is still the longest-practiced "alternative" pedagogy, the conventional approach of "Teacher->Student->Test" remains dominant.
Those days are over. A revolution is coming – because it has to.
This free lecture will introduce you to a special four-part lecture series by pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Steven Hughes. These lectures will help you understand what all life needs to survive, how evolution shaped your brain, how all human beings are all different and the same, why education as most of us know it is finished, and why Montessori may be humanity’s only hope.
Life is an Energy Game: The Physical Requirements of Living Things
4:00 - 6:00
If you know anything about Montessori education, you’ve probably heard that it is sometimes called "education for life". You may have assumed this meant that Montessori-educated children are more likely to have happy, successful lives. While that’s true, in this lecture you will gain a deeper appreciation for what "education for life" can mean.
You’ll also learn some fundamental laws of physics that affect all living things, some principles of evolution that have shaped different kinds of living things (like you), and you’ll even learn about that one weird trick that you and every other living thing are doing, every day, all the time.
This lecture introduces basic concepts that lay a foundation for the remaining lectures in this series. Without energy, there can be no life. Life is an energy game. This lecture explains how that game is played.
Life is Also a Statistics Game: Why Every Living Thing is a Gambler
4:00 - 6:00
Living things need to get energy from the environment to keep living, but energy is not just lying around – living things sometimes run out of energy while looking for more energy.
Conserving energy is important, and so is being able to make an "educated guess" or two about where you might find today’s lunch. New neuroscience research paints a fascinating picture of just how the brain functions as a kind of "prediction machine".
If everyone understood that every brain needs to construct its own model of the world, and that the only way a brain can create this model is through interactive experience and experimentation in the world, how do you think schools would be designed?
Living Things Have a Style: How We Are All Different From Each Other And The Same
4:00 - 6:00
At this point in the series, you will probably be thinking about how you have been playing Life: The Energy Game, and how, since you were born, you’ve been building your very own predictive model of the world – one that has guided your behavior so well, that you haven’t run out of energy (at least not yet). Every living thing needs some kind of a strategy for getting energy, but of course, there are strategies, and there are strategies.
What would it mean for you to have found the strategy that is the absolute best one for you? What would it mean for your children to find their best strategy?
If everyone understood that every person has a unique constellation of capabilities, talent-producing drives, and values, do you think schools would treat every child as if they were the same? Or would schools try to give every brain the opportunity to develop its own unique, optimal strategy for survival? How would that benefit all of us? What would that school look like?
There is no Plan(et) B: Why Montessori is Education for Life
4:00 - 6:00
We live in a time of extraordinary change. Once, a university degree was your ticket to a secure, energy-needs-satisfying occupation, and a pretty decent life.
That time appears to be ending.
Other, systemic changes are occurring due to climate change, and recurrent cycles in history. It is abundantly clear that the rest of the 21st century will be a period of unprecedented challenge and instability. Conventional education will try to adapt, but fundamentally, it cannot prepare our children for the challenges that they absolutely will be confronted by in their lifetimes – the challenge is simply beyond the scope of what conventional schooling can do.
Children alive now and those about to be born, will live at a time when that one weird trick discussed in the first lecture must become a kind of mantra or touchpoint for all human beings moving forward. There is only one approach to education that fully understands how and why this must occur. Montessori may be humanity’s only hope.
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