Yes, Montessori education is one possible implementation of this idea.

The more general term for “education that tries to make kids understand” is constructivism. Maria Montessori was among the first. Famous psychologists that contributed to constructivism are Piaget and Vygotsky. The latest development in my part of the world is Hejný method for teaching mathematics. In computer science, Seymour Papert designed the Logo programming language.

Different methodologies have different focus. Although Maria Montessori had some opinions on teaching students up to 24 years, the majority of her work focuses on pre-school education. This is why there is so much emphasis on toys that teach the basic concepts. Vít Hejný was a high-school teacher of mathematics, so his method focuses on teaching math within the framework of standard elementary and high school. Different authors prefer different learning tools, for example Montessori method illustrates the concept of number using beads, while Hejný method uses a “stepping belt”. There are many other different details.

There is also criticism of constructivism, which sometimes focuses on individual implementations (and some of them were really crazy, usually by taking the concept of independent discovery too far), and sometimes addresses the central claims. Here is my attempt to steelman the central criticism:

constructivists claim that understanding improves learning, but there is little empirical evidence for this (at least in modern era, because Maria Montessori definitely did miracles in her era), kids taught using constructivist methods often do not outperform kids taught using the standard memorization;

“copy blindly first, develop understanding later” is how homo sapiens learns things naturally (e.g. you talk to your babies, you don’t explain them grammar), and it works, which puts a huge burden of proof on people saying they can outperform the method we are literally evolved to use;

exploration takes more time, so even assuming it would ultimately lead to better understanding, it is not obvious that the cost:benefit ratio would be better (some of the crazy methods resulted in 12 years old kids who knew dozen different methods for addition, but didn’t know multiplication yet).

There are also, sadly, more pragmatic arguments against constructivism, such as difficulty of finding enough math teachers who really understand math, or resistance of parents who themselves learned math by memorizing and now can’t help their kids with their homework.

Yes, Montessori education is one possible implementation of this idea.

The more general term for “education that tries to make kids

understand” is constructivism. Maria Montessori was among the first. Famous psychologists that contributed to constructivism are Piaget and Vygotsky. The latest development in my part of the world is Hejný method for teaching mathematics. In computer science, Seymour Papert designed the Logo programming language.Different methodologies have different focus. Although Maria Montessori had some opinions on teaching students up to 24 years, the majority of her work focuses on

pre-schooleducation. This is why there is so much emphasis on toys that teach the basic concepts. Vít Hejný was a high-school teacher of mathematics, so his method focuses on teaching math within the framework of standard elementary and high school. Different authors prefer different learning tools, for example Montessori method illustrates the concept of number using beads, while Hejný method uses a “stepping belt”. There are many other different details.There is also criticism of constructivism, which sometimes focuses on individual implementations (and some of them were really crazy, usually by taking the concept of independent discovery too far), and sometimes addresses the central claims. Here is my attempt to steelman the central criticism:

constructivists claim that understanding improves learning, but there is little

empirical evidencefor this (at least in modern era, because Maria Montessori definitely did miracles in her era), kids taught using constructivist methods often donotoutperform kids taught using the standard memorization;“copy blindly first, develop understanding later” is how

homo sapienslearns thingsnaturally(e.g. you talk to your babies, you don’t explain them grammar), and it works, which puts a huge burden of proof on people saying they can outperform the method we areliterallyevolved to use;exploration takes more time, so even assuming it would ultimately lead to better understanding, it is not obvious that the cost:benefit ratio would be better (some of the crazy methods resulted in 12 years old kids who knew dozen different methods for addition, but didn’t know multiplication yet).

There are also, sadly, more pragmatic arguments against constructivism, such as difficulty of finding enough math teachers who really understand math, or resistance of parents who themselves learned math by memorizing and now can’t help their kids with their homework.