Foundations of Education


Highlights the intersection between child psychology, educational philosophy, and classroom design in Montessori and Waldorf education.

The Intersection of Child Psychology, Educational Philosophy, and Classroom Design

This week serves as a bridge between the educational psychology (Weeks 13 - 18) and educational philosophy (Weeks 19 - 24) modules in the course.

Week 19 focuses on two worldwide independent school movements - Montessori education and Waldorf education - each of which is deeply rooted in holistic ‘whole child’ visions of educational psychology and educational philosophy. Both Montessori and Waldorf education heed the 'spiritual', 'affective', 'aesthetic', 'kinaesthetic', and 'moral' lives of children (as interpreted by the proponents of each movement), as well as the 'cognitive'.

Montessori and Waldorf education contrast sharply with traditional approaches to K-12 education. Even if you are not destined to become a Montessori or Waldorf school teacher, learning about these two educational approaches can still be immensely helpful in broadening your conceptions of how teachers teach, how students learn, and how classrooms are designed in a variety of educational contexts.
📌 Most of this week focuses on early childhood and primary level education. However, the final topic page addresses education in the upper elementary and secondary grades.
This course touched on classroom design in Week 10, during which the direct instruction classroom and the activity centre classroom were contrasted. The design functionality and aesthetics of Montessori and Waldorf classrooms (and, in the case of Waldorf education, the school building itself) are purposefully influenced by specific developmental visions as to how children grow and develop - physically (e.g., child scaled furniture), cognitively (e.g., purposefully designed manipulatives), and spiritually (e.g., the use of natural materials).

So too, the respective child developmental visions of Montessori and Waldorf education directly influence each school movement’s educational philosophy, including how teachers teach and how students learn.
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Both Montessori education and Waldorf education delineate specific visions for the primary role and purpose of education (educational philosophy), how children learn and develop (educational and child psychology), and how classrooms should be set up (classroom design). (Image credit: David Hutchison)