The role of technology in Montessori education in the 21st century is the theme of the Montessori Schools Association’s national conference on 21 March.

Chair of the Montessori Schools Association Martin Bradley said, ‘We felt that the whole issue of IT in the nursery was coming to the fore now. ‘There are certain concerns among Montessorians about using iPads and we thought we’d look at the pros and cons.’

He said there were two aspects to it – children are using tablets and digital media more in nursery and at home, and settings are increasingly using tablets to track children’s progress.

The part played by digital media in play and learning will be discussed by Professor Lydia Plowman from the University of Edinburgh and Dr Christine Stephen from the University of Stirling.

Both have been carrying out research into the role of technology in the lives of under-fives for more than 15 years.

US academic Dr Paul Epstein, head of school at the Rochester Montessori Montessori School in Minnesota, will talk about the role of digital technology for children and how that fits with traditional Montessori materials and principles.

Barbara Isaacs, director of national strategies at Montessori St Nicholas, said, ‘I hope the conference will encourage us to examine the benefits as well as the challenges of technology and so provide us with better understanding of its pedagogical value.’

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