Dewey’s and Montessori’s Vision is Realized
QuantumCamp’s philosophical core springs forth from the great research-based pedagogies of the teaching profession, stretching back to John Dewey and Maria Montessori. Here is a brief distillation of their beautiful ideas and how we manifest them into practice at QC.
Individual Over Impersonal
Dewey’s education theories arose from his observation of the unprecedented diminution of the individual amidst the inexorable rise of mass industrialization in late nineteenth-century America. The individual shopkeeper, artisan, craftsperson, and the farmer was being subsumed by titanic societal and capital forces. Dewey reasoned the only window into the valorization and empowerment of the self, and of small communities, was education. An educated populace, therefore, was a requirement for a functioning democracy that had an explicit vision of liberty and happiness for all.
Consequently, the purpose of education was not to simply learn tasks or how to follow instructions. Rather, a school should be a catalyst for the development and actualization of the innate potential in us all. It should be a place where the child’s natural (and insatiable!) curiosity is channeled via thoughtful guidance into both a loving attunement to our democracy and to self-reliance. Ultimately, the child is set on a course toward liberation and is free to pursue happiness as they seek to build a better world.
Connecting to the Cosmos
Montessori’s driving principle was to connect young learners to the entire cosmos and help them see how they relate and contribute to this magnificent whole. With a quiet, contemplative look around, Montessori was captivated by the wonder and grandeur of our universe, the earth, and human society. You can see this when she swings into fascinating digressions into science and economics (down to lesson plan detail) in the middle of her great books on education theory.
For example, she viewed the economy, the simple exchange of goods and services, as a perfect launch point of study with an endless, rich repository of fascinating things to learn (requiring mastery of traditional subjects like math and history). Like Dewey, Montessori wrote of an intimate interplay between the individual and society. Children (as do adults!) feel valorized when their own contributions are valued by society. The individual and the society are linked and thereby the school should enable each child to see the beauty of the world and contribute meaningfully to it.
Let’s fast forward 100+ years to QuantumCamp in 2020. This is what we do! We have developed a math and science curriculum platform that brings Dewey’s and Montessori’s ideas into practice.
Kids connect to the grandeur and beauty of the universe precisely through the work they do in solving real and fascinating math and science problems. The students conduct hands-on experiments and collaborate to make sense of their findings and build new knowledge. Finally, just like professional scientists and mathematicians whose ultimate hope is to improve the lives of everyone, our students share their ideas with each other and continually relate them to their lives and the world around them.
As a result of this approach, students develop confidence and feel empowered to exert control over their individual paths through life. We believe that each child, no matter the barriers if given a chance to do QuantumCamp-style math and science, can play critical roles in creating a better future.