Driverless time means quality time, according to Montessori
How learning through play could be extended to learning through travel with driverless cars and parent-child quality time
Driverless car technology invites countless opportunity for everyone. But it would seem working parents will enjoy more benefits than most, as they take back valuable quality time with their children. Time which could be used in all sorts of interesting and productive ways.
There are few who know more about the interesting and productive ways to spend time with children than those who follow the Montessori education method. Here's the driverless story, as told by Montessori.
What is 'Montessori'?
Montessori is an alternative method of education. Its schools have a holistic approach to learning that is completely child-centred and built around the belief that each child is an individual with their own unique 'gifts'. Therefore, it is the pupils, not the teachers, who determine what they will learn and, to an extent, how. Their highly trained teacher, or 'Directress', facilitates their chosen direction of learning through structured activities and games.
In effect, Montessori is all about learning through play.
The Montessori philosophy is one which determines that learning doesn't just take place in a classroom, and it doesn't stop at 'education' either. It works to develop the 'whole child': physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively; looking to the greater world as an extension of the classroom, with countless opportunities for learning.
No doubt, driverless car technology allowing for more parent-child time during the school run may well support the Montessori education. After all, driverless lends itself nicely to opportunities for further educational development outside the classroom and encourages extra parental bonding at a time when parent-child quality time is vanishing.
Ask the parents
We recently spoke to several working parents about some of the tricks they currently employ – from bribery to revised leaving times – in order to encourage their kids to cooperate in cars. We also spoke to them about the difference having a driverless car would make to that experience.
The responses were encouraging. Some talked about using the time productively, such as polishing off tasks for school and reading, and others were simply happy to get back some 'quality time'. After all, when all parents work, quality parent-child time is a rare commodity.
But what about the Montessori perspective? Can driverless car technology better the lives of their pupils? We spoke to Raju Surelia, a Montessori Head Teacher, to find out.
Ask the teacher
Raju has been the headteacher at Little Learners School in Solihull, England, for 24 years. She believes mornings are particularly important to her pupils, of whom are aged between two and four. Some travel up to an hour to get to school and, even though most children arrive rested and ready for a day's learning, some will arrive a little stressed from the journey. And if the children are stressed, you can only imagine how the parents feel.
“I feel the level of stress would be much lower all-round if parents had quality time with their children in the mornings. The journey in a driverless car would certainly provide this opportunity. I can see parents investing in it."
Echoing the sentiments of the parents interviewed for the 'confessions of a working parent' film, Raju acknowledges that driverless car technology will have untold benefits for working parents, especially when their children are young.
"There's another teacher here who has two young children. I spoke to her about this. She said it would be 'just bliss', being able to talk to her children, and just 'be there'.”
However, the free time driverless cars offer parents should not necessarily be used to proactively start their learning on the way to school, especially when they're young. But that perspective changes when the children start having more responsibility at school.
“Parents are so stressed nowadays. Just spending quality time with their child would be fabulous. However, as they get older, maybe doing their homework would help. Our parents are often genuinely interested in their children’s learning, so I think they would use the time not driving productively.”
Parent-child 'quality time', whatever form that may take, is well-documented as having untold benefits in wellbeing, resulting in better behaviour, better mental and emotional health and even better physical health.
If we take the children at Raju's school as an example, up to an hour twice a day of focused time between a parent and their child is the kind of time that would be hard to find elsewhere for busy working parents.
And, depending on what parents decide to do during that time, there could be other benefits too. An improvement in communication for example, or increased socialisation if parents maintain that time in the car is also time away from screens.
Even if that time is simply used to simply chat together, rather than undertaking a specific activity, the parental bonding benefits alone would be worth an investment in driverless technology.
How would you spend your time with your children during the school run – if you were in a driverless vehicle?
Join the debate, and give us your perspective as a parent.