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Maria Montessori + Agile Thinking = Scrum

As a pupil, I have attended a regular school. The oldest Salesians of DB School in Chennai. The teachings were Anglo India. As I grew up to an adult, I learned the Montessori way of learning was with freedom and enjoyment.

My daughter, 6 years old is studying in a Montessori with the freedom she requires, as a parent coordinator, it has been an easy plot to understand what my child learns, how she learns it, alphabets, numbers, shapes, calculations, ordering, life size real examples…

I started to attend few classes as a silent listener and a volunteer to help when necessary.

The overview I picked from wikipedia on Montessori education gives us an idea to compare, here you go…

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society.

Montessori education

Scrum

Mixed age classrooms, with classrooms for children aged 2½ or 3 to 6 years old by far the most common Cross-Functional Teams
Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options Tasks Pickup by voluntary method
Uninterrupted blocks of work time Sprints
A Constructivism or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction Story boards to epic, theme creations and poker planning.
Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators Poker Planning, estimation techniques, Sprint and Release Planning

Stand-Ups

When the school starts, it doesn’t start with an assembly with prayers, but each class of 20 students meet-up in  a circle, without a word maintaining silence and they say what they learnt yesterday, what they like to learn today. Just like our Sprint meeting where we answer the 3 questions with well prepared answers with a time boxed meeting.

Each child chooses what they want to do. Walk away from the circle, collects the tools they want to learn walks back to the circle and the teacher or a matured / senior child helps the younger child to learn the concepts. End of the day or over a week the child learns the concepts with several practical questions answered all by him.

Themes, Epics & Storyboards

To understand, let me take an example… Swetha, walked out of the ring, collected a world atlas puzzle made of wood. She is 5 years old and doesn’t understand what it is. As a game to arrange things was the only thought she should have had while picking up the material. Her senior Tony guided her and explained her about the countries, Jason explained about the land where we are and the countries with seas in between, The discussion went to different types of travel, things the world is made of, shape of the world, size of the world, the universe, the things around it, how is date and time calculated? How is the day changing to night? Not just in a single class but within a week Swetha was able to understand at her age of 5, the things that we understood in a regular science book from 5th to 8th grade. As Tony & Jason both 6 years old share their knowledge, they gain knowledge in answering them and strengthening their base of what they like.

Performance Reviews

When Swetha, did her learning with the atlas puzzle, she was questioned by her teacher, her guide. Swetha, can you draw an atlas by yourself? Can you show me where India is? What is the country above India? Can you tell me a story of the atlas? And more….

Burndown

As a parent, to learn your child has scored in a regular school is in a way of tests / exams. In Montessori, the performance is evaluated over a period of time, not in a fixed test / exams format with questions to be answered and answered correctly including the ranking that kills the budding minds.

Swetha draws and describes in her level of English what she understood about the atlas puzzle and amazingly covers most of what was discussed. Her single story had a king longing on day 1 to wait till day 1 of the next month for 12 months to see her queen, where one stay in earth and the other in moon and about the seas and the plants that grown under them, The day changing to night and why shinning stars cannot be seen in day. Finally, the couple ended up after 12 month touring 18 countries that she spelt and wrote.

I haven’t known a better system to teach napkin minds at this age.

Even in a Scrum or a waterfall jaggy model, our performance reviews are made up KPI (Key Point Indicators) or objectives set and broken down to reach targets (Low Targets, High Targets, Stretch Targets) and we basically formulate a calculation for a team of 20 or 40 to rank and provide scores as LMH (Low, Medium or High) or other ways. But the observation on performance is discussed low or never discussed. What has been achieved badly is highlighted more than what is achieved and covered up as a need mostly.

Ethical

I would recommend leaders and managers to observe, listen and then review each performance with a clear career path in mind for each individual. An associate score card is not a fixed static point, but a way to help him understand that his focus is lost in certain areas, he needs to focus on those areas and his focus is best and when continued would yield these results. These should be documented and tracked.

We need to understand we are working with humans, a fully loveable material who works for us and respects us just because we have the authority. I remember and have seen this quote play well “Give the person the authority and you would see how criminal he is”.

Love Points

The overlap seems to be perfect, the key points that I really liked are

  1. Their daily ring (Standup)
  2. No one assigns tasks, they are voluntarily taken by the child to play way learn.
  3. Mixed age classroom (Cross Functional teams) &
  4. Performance Review.

 We have to heterodox regular methods.

Images are fetched from: “http://teambuildingactivitiesforkids.com/”

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in New forms in Agile

 

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