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Maria Montessori: The 138-Year-Old Inspiration Behind Spore

Posted by ballightning on March 24, 2009

Kotaku has a lengthy article in which Will Wright discusses his childhood and his time spent in the Montessori school he attended and how it influenced his learning, and reflected on his career as a game producer.

In Montessori schools, the emphasis is on instilling a desire to learn in children, not in lecturing them.

“In western education we take theories, we deconstruct them, we categorize them and then we teach them in classrooms,” Wright says. “You are going to a school, going to a master, learning theory before you could go practice it.”

“Before that system, it was about practice, it was more of a failure based learning. I think that’s almost a more natural approach. It seems that Montessori is going with the grain in that naturalistic sense. It was later we moved to this narrative method, sitting back, listening-to-a-lecture model .”

“To be creative you have to have the freedom to explore and to master the specific techniques and that leads to unleashing the human spirit so that the process of creating can come from within.”


“The structure of Montessori toy is that the kid will discover things while playing with a toy,” Wright said. “Having the kid discover these principals is so much more powerful than a teacher coming up and saying we’re going to learn about this.

“The way we approached Spore was a lot like that. What are the components I want a gamer to discover when playing with this?”

And that’s not an unusual approach for Wright. None of his games are really games, he says.

“I build more interesting toys than interesting games,” he said. “I always thought of Spore as a toy universe. I think there is an interesting distinction between toy and game. I think a toy is more open ended.

“The game is a subset of the experiences you can have with the toy.”


Read the full article here


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