We use ‘active learning’ to describe a classroom approach which acknowledges that learners are active in the learning process by building knowledge and understanding in response to learning opportunities provided by their teacher. This contrasts with a model of instruction whereby knowledge is imparted or transmitted from the teacher to students. For Cambridge and Montessori, active learning means that learners take increasing responsibility for their learning, and that teachers are enablers and activators of learning, rather than lecturers or deliverers of ideas.
Benefits of active learning
• Active learning fosters understanding (rather than rote learning facts), which students can then apply to diverse contexts and problems. It is this understanding and problem solving approach that employers and universities seek.
• Active learning fosters students’ learning and their autonomy, giving them greater involvement and control over their learning and giving them skills to foster life-long learning in the future. It is closely associated with learning how to learn.
• Learners will be better able to revise for examinations in the sense that revision really its’re-vision’ of the ideas that they already understand.
Why is active learning relevant to Montessori and Cambridge?
Assessments do not simply test recall of knowledge but ask learners to draw on their understanding in order to analyse, evaluate and synthesise ideas. In this way, Cambridge programs and qualifications are best taught using active learning approaches which are also more engaging for students and follow the Montessori philosophy of “follow the child”. Encouraging active learning enables learners to attain higher grades, based on their enhanced understanding, and better prepares them for further education and the workplace.