Hard, normal, absurd
A grab bag of good really good reads this week below.
One important Montessorium addendum: next week marks the beginning of the second run of our History of Education course. If you missed it the first time, don’t miss it this time. An amazing cohort of educators has registered, and I’m incredibly excited about the content updates that are in store for v2.
What we’re reading:
“If you don’t switch to hard mode by 35, life switches to impossible mode for you by 45.” (Twitter thread) — Venkatesh Rao extends the analogy of difficulty modes in video games to precisely describe how very, very normal circumstances—being middle class, being somewhat smart, and, importantly, standard education structures—incentivize deeply internalizing playing life on “easy mode”. To the point where you never really learn how to live it. Best thing I read this week.
The Urgency of Normal (website) — Doctors Scott Balsitis, Monica Gandhi, Jeff Vergales, and a dozen more have put together an incredible website and slide deck toolkit on the case for returning schools to a post-public-health-emergency normal. This is the go-to resource for any educator (or parent) who is grappling with issues of covid safety.
The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention (essay) — Shane Parrish summarizes the practical upshot of 150 years of what is probably the most consistent finding in all of learning and memory research: that spacing improves learning. That is: cramming doesn’t really work for learning; spaced repetition does. Interestingly, whatever your interpretation of this effect, it runs biologically deep: it shows up in non-human animals as well.
COVID Parenting Has Passed the Point of Absurdity (article) —Melinda Wenner Moyer describes pandemic parenting, at this point, as coping by (literally) collectively screaming in the dark. I’m about half-sympathetic to this article. The reality underlying it is that the omicron wave has accelerated shifts in thinking about covid, causing some to be more cautious and some to be less so, and that this is playing havoc with educational policies. This lack of consensus itself in fact creates an “absurdly hard mode” for many, many parents.
Matt Bateman, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Montessorium
More Montessorium Content
Higher Ground’s Approach to Identity
A humanistic approach to identity: creating meaning in work, finding belonging in our common nature, and conceptualizing oneself over time.
Montessori's Initial Reception in America
The initial popularity of Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy in the US resonated with the Emersonian philosophy of education and intersected, albeit only for a few years, with the societal views of the Progressive elites of the day.