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Montessori education celebrities, a learning attitude for life

After three years of meetings, conferences, workshops of any sort, coffee shop talks, discussions on forums, facebook and by e-mail, I finally accepted it.

When you talk about Montessori schools, the question you’re always asked is never about educational materials, children’s autonomy and socialisation, freedom and order ratio, the adult’s role, punishments and rewards, homework and grades.

Never. The one and only question parents ask is:

“What about middle school?”

  • How will kids educated according to an idealistic method and vision of the world cope with real life???
  • How will they tolerate autoritarian teachers, after having been gently and lovingly educated by Montessori teachers (who are exactly the same as they are shown on private and public Montessori schools brochures)?
  • How will they fill the gaps due to free, individual learning strategies, non-authoritarian teaching, no tests and grades?

If you think about children’s needs, Montessori schools are a fascinating alternative to traditional schools. However, according to some clichés, it may be hard for kids attending Montessori schools to face the real, harsh and competitive world.

When I’m questioned about this aspect of Montessori education, I usually choose to be professional and mention the excellent results – as for learning motivation, pleasure and skills, of students attending one or more Montessori school cycles.

But when I realise this is not so convincing, Montessori “celebrities” are always an ace up my sleeve.

When asked about how crucial their university education at Standford had been, Sergei Brin and Larry Page would answer that nursery school actually was.

When they were little children, they both attended a Children’s house, a Montessori nursery, where they learnt how to “do without orders and rules, to be self-motivated and curious about real life experiences, to do things a little bit differently.”

Who are they? No less than Google’s inventors, the leading research engine and most visited web site in the Internet.

Some more examples?

Jeff Bezos and Jimmy Wales, the creators of Amazon and Wikipedia, respectively, hosting million of people every day.

In a post of his successfull blog, worldwide known business tutor and knowledge manager Steve Denning compares Montessori schools and “traditional” schools, stating that while Montessori education breeds students to be leaders, traditional education is still based on tests.

Evaluation criteria at traditional schools should be revised – he says, boosting Lifelong Learning, that is a long-lasting open mindedness and learning attitude.

Instead of being worried about middle school, think about how a few years at the nursery may change your mind and life, giving you abilities such as creativity, innovation and insight, and develop new, original strategies and perspectives.

Maria Montessori said
How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have. This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence . The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself

And for life, far beyond middle school!