Montessori-Friendly Character Education: Off-the-shelf Exercises for Helping Students Develop Moral and Social Intelligence

Jonathan Wolff

People coming of age in the 21st century will need to develop unprecedented levels of intercultural cooperation, mutual moral concern, creativity, and skill in effectively addressing the global challenges of today. An education that will prepare young people to become competent and compassionate world citizens in such a context cannot be measured only in terms of cognitive skills and knowledge, but must address wider aspects of the heart, including skills and qualities of awareness associated with conscious self-regulation, ethical and social responsibility, and empathy and compassion for others. In helping students develop sound character and make compassionate, responsible decisions – what Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman call moral, emotional, and social intelligence – Montessori teachers and parents frequently resort to instructional strategies that are primarily adult directed. In this workshop, Jonathan Wolff explores a fresh way to create student-centered character education experiences for the prepared environment, classroom, and family communities.