Tag Archives: wikipedia

How is Google indebted to Maria Montessori

I take this passage by Maria Montessori from a blog post in Space Collective:

“Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference.

Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society”.

I was drawn to Maria Montessori’s understanding of the natural learning inherent in all of us from my first readings, so much so that my two sons spent their formative years in a Montessori preschool and early primary school.  For unavoidable reasons, they returned to mainstream education, but I come back to Montessori philosophy of education again and again, still trusting in its founder’s views.

The author of the article cited above has made an interesting and I think, significant, discovery:

…it came to my attention that at least three pillars of the current internet were informed by a century-old educational system conceived by Maria Montessori … both Larry Page and Sergei Brin attributed Google’s success story to Maria Montessori. According to them their Montessori education taught them to be self directed and self starters, adding that their schooling taught them to think for themselves, giving them the freedom to pursue their own path, which would lead to the snowballing success of Google, which aims to provide the world with near universal access to all information known to man.

A similar background informed the career of Jeff Bezos who created the groundbreaking online retail organization Amazon.com, and another online celebrity on the list is no less than Jimmy Wales, whose Wikipedia has become the online fount of encyclopedic knowledge. Interactive game designer Will Wright also mentions Maria Montessori as his main inspiration for his seminal hit The Sims, while crediting like-minded Dutch educator Kees Boeke for the Powers of Ten metaphor that helped him create his new game Spore.

Photo courtesy of cogdogblog on Flickr

I think that’s very impressive. How can we help our students to be self-directed and self-starters? Are we helping our students to think for themselves, to direct their own path?


Paul Stewart (thanks Paul) put me onto Deletionpedia, a wonderfully annihilistic-sounding encyclopedia. Rhonda Powling has blogged about Veropedia, a verified Wikipedia, so I thought it would be interesting to check out Deletionpedia, an archive of more than 63,000 pages which have been deleted from the English-language Wikipedia. As with histories within any wikis, it’s interesting to see changes made, and you can browse through different deletions, such as pages deleted after more than 1000 days on Wikipedia; pages deleted more than 200 times; pages deleted this month, etc. The process of editing becomes transparent. Deletionpedia also provides ‘page of the month’, ‘list of the month’, and ‘category of the month’.

Did you know that Wikipedia allowed reuse of its content, including pages it has deleted, using the GNU Free Documentation License? To comply with this license, Wikipedia rescues the full edit history of its pages. Wikipedia splits up the archive into ‘we don’t like’ and ‘we do like’. And so, ‘we don’t like’ copyright violations, serious libel problems or offensive material; and ‘we do like’ interesting or quirky pages, including creative writing, opinions and original research (which do not belong in a wiki).’

All of this works by automated script following a Wikipedia user tagging something as appropriate for deletion. The tagged pages are uploaded to a temporary store; the deletion log is checked and the deleted pages are uploaded from the temporary store to Deletionpedia. A forthcoming feature is the addition of a rating system for easy identification of interesting pages.

What wonderful -Pedias await us in the future?