School days


I attended a Montessori school all the way through 12th grade. I’m finding not that many people in college are familiar with Montessori Education. Did I get a better education than attending a regular high school?

We originally thought your question missed the mark for an article that appeals to college students. After some research, we learned that some of the richest and most influential people in the world were Montessori graduates. Any information gleaned from understanding the success of others is always of interest to college students. We will overview what the Montessori method teaches and how several talented people applied it in their lives.

Developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over a hundred years ago, the philosophy is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observation of children from birth to adulthood. The approach values the human spirit and development of the whole child physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. Today, Montessori institutes cater for all levels of learning from toddlers through high school.

The primary benefits of a Montessori school are an emphasis on independent learning in a supportive community creating lifelong learners and responsible global citizens. It was observed that children have more motivation to learn when choosing something of their own interest. However, materials and activities are limited to the curriculum for each age group. Children can work at their own pace under close supervision, building on skills and knowledge already gained.

There have been independent studies that suggest Montessori students perform as well as or better academically than their peers at regular schools. Standardized test results have been compared in research papers which do indicate a superior performance and better grades from Montessori students. They tend also to have better social and behavioral skills and can demonstrate a greater sense of fairness, when dealing with disputes or social dilemmas, than their peers educated at regular schools.

Most Montessori schools report that their students usually get accepted at the colleges of their choice and many successful graduates cite their Montessori education as a contributor to their achievements. The benefit of this type of education continues throughout the life of most graduates who tend to be more self-sufficient and independent thinkers. Most forms of education seem to funnel graduates into particular fields. Research indicated that Montessori alum are represented in the upper echelon of medicine, law practice, the arts, literature and politics.

A few notable Montessori graduates who made headlines including Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, who claim that their education taught them to be self-directed self-starters. They also claim that their education gave them the freedom to think ‘outside of the box’ and pursue their own interests.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, attributes his love of reading and hunger for knowledge to Montessori schooling. The school’s philosophy encouraged him to spend hours reading encyclopedias. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos attended a Montessori school and, according to his mother, was so absorbed in activities there that the teachers had to pick him up from his chair to move him.

Montessori school seems to provide a more supportive and creative environment for a child’s developing cognitive processes, and we could all benefit from that later in life.

Help me do it alone… Dr. Maria Montessori.

Written by Nancy Pearson, President of Nancy Pearson Design and Montessori graduate.


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