“All the changes in man’s environment are brought about by his hands. Really, it might seem as if the whole business of intelligences is to guide their work.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori, 1964
Hands-on learning — in which children work directly with materials, putting their minds to work while their minds work their hands — is an essential part of the annual Creator Faire, and to the Montessori educational approach. But why is hands-on learning so important?
In her anthropological studies, Dr. Maria Montessori noticed that the use of hands in learning could be traced back to early human development. As early humans began to walk upright on two legs, this freed up their hands as tools used to hunt and gather food, and eventually to make tools that helped them in those tasks and many others.
As children grow, some of the earliest signs of their development are in the hands, as they grasp objects, put their hands in their mouths, and eventually begin to purposefully grasp and pick things up, pull themselves to standing, feed themselves, and much more. Just as with early humans, they navigate their environment using their hands.
Neuroscience shows that infants and children — and even us adults — take in plenty of information about our surroundings through our hands. “The brain has devoted so much space for the mastery of working with our hands that if our bodies were proportioned accordingly we would stand about one foot high with hands five to six feet tall at our sides,” writes former Montessori teacher and author Rebecca Jenke.
In fact, research has confirmed that content and skills learned through hands-on engagement are better understood and more easily recalled. What’s more, students who use their hands to manipulate their learning directly are more intrinsically motivated, with their desire to learn more likely to continue because it comes from within themselves rather than from others.
For all these reasons and many more (hint: it’s fun!), the 4th Annual Creator Faire provides children and their adults with plenty of hands-on opportunities to learn, play, experiment, muck around, plant, paint, construct, and even destruct!