What is Montessori?

For those who are not familiar with Montessori education, a brief explanation is that it is a philosophy and pedagogy based on the scientific research of Dr. Maria Montessori. Defining features include children grouped in multi-aged classrooms engaging in hands-on, self-paced, collaborative work. Multi-aged classrooms allow older students to be leaders and mentors while providing opportunities for younger students to work with older classmates on group projects.

Montessori teachers do not stand in front of a class giving lectures while asking students to work on the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.  Rather, they observe the classroom and students presenting lessons one-on-one with students or in small groups; teaching to where the individual is, not to the test.  At the core of the Montessori philosophy is the belief that all students have a natural desire to learn, explore, and joyfully work toward independence through knowledge and discipline.




This video captures some of these differences between a traditional education and a Montessori education.



Will a Montessori Education Prepare My Child for the “Real World?”

The top five types of knowledge and skills employers are looking for in the 21stCentury were listed by a Gallup poll in this order:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • information technology application
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • creativity and innovation
  • diversity training

All of these skills are deeply embedded in the Montessori method. 

Whether we define the "real world" as one of professional pressures, deadlines, and aggressive competition or emotional intelligence, engaged citizenry, compassion, joy, and relationship to one’s environment, Montessori prepares a child for both. 

In a “real world” job, one is expected to be able to work with people at different levels of experience, work well independently and in a group, set up work, concentrate on it, keep it organized, complete it, and put it away.  Workers need to try things to see if they work and then learn from their mistakes. They need to be able to problem solve and to communicate effectively.  Montessori education equips students to do this.


The Montessori Mafia

“The Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by [Montessori] alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia: Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.”  “Montessori Mafia” in the Wall Street Journal by Peter Sims

Other famous Montessorians:

  • Julia Child
  • Katherine Graham (Pulitzer Prize winning author)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (winner of the Nobel Prize for literature)
  • Yo-Yo Ma (cellist and winner of 15 Grammy Awards)
  • George Clooney (Academy Award winning actor)
  • Helen Keller
  • Steph Curry (NBA star) 






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