What is Montessori?

Primary student guiding younger student on building the pink tower

The time honored, child-centered Montessori method provides the materials, environment, and guidance that nurtures a child's innate curiosity in order for the child to learn freely. Montessori embraces this same curiosity and ignites young minds by developing ingenuity and critical thinking skills.

Imagine a world if Google innovators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin never considered the possibility of compiling all of the information in the world and providing easy access to it. When interviewed by Barbara Walters in 2004, Page and Brin both credited their success to Montessori education.

"I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what's going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently."
Larry Page, Google CEO

Page and Brin, like every other Montessori learner, were encouraged from a young age to ask questions, follow ideas, and think differently. How? Montessori materials are thoughtfully crafted to challenge children to question and explore. The self-correcting nature of these materials cause students to think critically and persistently problem solve. Self-direction and self-interest leads to a thought process free of limits. The Montessori philosophy doesn't teach to a standard; its essence is going beyond.

In a Harvard Business Review article from 2009, Hal Gregersen of INSEAD explains succinctly why Montessori works:

“If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6 ½ years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they're grown up and are in corporate settings, they have already had the curiosity drummed out of them. 80% of executives spend less than 20% of their time on discovering new ideas. Unless, of course, they work for a company like Apple or Google.”

Hal Gregersen, INSEAD

Traditional classrooms can stifle a child's natural curiosity through limitations of teaching to the test, standardization, and hindered creative thinking. In the traditional format, there is very little room to learn how to effectively problem solve, manage time, and think differently. The reality is, in order to be successful in any career, a person needs to be able to overcome challenges and implement innovative solutions. The Montessori philosophy focuses on intrinsic motivation, participatory learning, and the process, not the product—all critical in the development of a revolutionary thinker that will succeed when faced with any obstacle. Having a vision and the passion to see it through can't be said for everyone, but with a Montessori education, the possibilities are endless.

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