“I benefited from the Montessori education which in some ways gives the students a lot more freedom to do things at their own pace, to discover… Some of the credit for the willingness to go on your own interests, you can tie that back to that Montessori education,” said the co-founder of Google Sergey Brin.* (The other co-founder of Google, Larry Page, was also a Montessori child.)
”I like the Montessori method. …It makes learning a pleasure,” said the maker of the light bulb Thomas Edison.*
What do these insanely successful individuals — along with Jeff Bezos, literally the richest man alive — know about early schooling that the world is just now (re)discovering? [If you don’t yet know of Bezos’s billion-dollar commitment, read this first.]
Montessori is the education of the future that ironically began long ago in the past.
In 1907, one of the first female physicians in Italy — Dr. Maria Montessori — opened a one-classroom schoolhouse for children in Rome.
In this “Casa de Bambini” or Children’s House, Dr. Montessori put into practice a few radically new ideas for her time:
Observe what children enjoy and what aids their overall development — instead of pushing on them the accepted “education” of the day;
Be open to change based on constant trial & error about what’s working and what’s not working — instead of trying to hold onto past ways;
Offer each unique child the freedom (within limits) to learn at his or her own pace — versus treating children the same and sticking them in rows of desks to be talked at.
And all of this worked. Really worked. The “new children” that came out of Dr. Montessori’s school were transformed, and word of the results spread rapidly. Within only a few years of the first little “Casa”, Montessori schools had popped up around the world, from England to Russia to Holland to France to the shores of America.
(Unfortunately, the name Montessori was never trademarked so schools differed wildly in quality. Today, if you’re looking for a “Montessori” school, it’s important to do your research.)
But what do genuine Montessori schools actually look like in practice, and what might we expect from Jeff Bezos when he starts using both his billions and his brainpower to “launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools”?
Find out in the following video, which offers a peek into real Montessori classrooms and answers the question, What is Montessori?
Jesse McCarthy is the Founder and Head Guide of Montessori Education, an organization dedicated to helping parents and teachers raise independent, flourishing children — while enjoying themselves along the way.