Republished from the TMS Newsletter, March 2013
To coincide with the annual AMS (American Montessori Conference), our recent Staff Training Day was spent watching and discussing a lecture presented by neuropsychologist Steven Hughes.
In this highly visual, rapid-paced and entertaining talk, Dr. Hughes describes how Maria Montessori’s brain-based approach to education provides an unparalleled foundation for the development of academic, social, and executive functions critical for advanced problem solving and lifetime success. He shows how Montessori education parallels what we now know about brain development and fosters the development of advanced cognitive functions, social cognition, and such higher-order competencies as empathy and leadership.
One of the highlights of the lecture was Hughes’ description of the “real estate” in the brain that is devoted to the hands: “If you made a human being based on what your brain thinks your body looks like, you’d get this” (see image at right). “This is YOU from the perspective of your brain! This is really, arguably, a more realistic portrayal of you than the version you see in the mirror each morning.”
Hughes points out that this awareness of the hands’ importance in learning has been at the center of Montessori education for a century and he repeats Maria Montessori’s description of the hands, that they “are the prehensile organs of the mind” (28:04).
We invite you to view the lecture, too. It’s often funny, and is extremely informative. Hughes takes the stage about three and a half minutes into the video (03:25).