The Impact of Handwork as a Practical Life Exercise in the Upper Elementary Montessori Classroom
Channel, Elizabeth B.
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The desire to learn with our hands is an innate human trait. Sociocultural theory presented by Lev Vygotsky laid the foundation of the importance of hands-on learning, which is still prevalent in current trends within the field of education. When focusing on the whole child, sociocultural theory supports the many facets that comprise the human being. The evolution of skills deemed necessary in the current era, challenges schools to implement dynamic curricula in order to foster 21st century skills in students. While there is not substantial research to support the use of handwork in the Upper Elementary Montessori classroom (multi-age setting for 4th-6th grades), there is significant research that demonstrates the importance of creativity, discipline, independence, self-efficacy, and social cooperation as skills to develop for this age group. The purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate the impact of handwork as an experience with upper elementary students between the ages of nine and twelve as a means to develop contemporary soft skills of creativity, discipline, independence, self-efficacy, and social cooperation which together support pre-adolescent brain development. Through the use of qualitative (observations) and quantitative instruments (surveys), this research was intended to validate the impact of Practical Life activities in development of these skills. However; due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the study had to be terminated. Based on the short period of intervention and researcher’s time with students, the following generalized conclusions about handwork and development of soft skills is that there is a positive effect.
M.S.E., Montessori Teacher Education