Stanford Daily: If Only Montessori Did High School…

What’s that you say? Erdkinder?

Alexandra Heeney, film critic at The Seventh Row and Managing Editor (Arts and Life) at The Stanford Daily, has an interview there with director Greg Whitely about his Sundance film Most Likely to Succeed, a documentary about the history and future of education. The film’s depiction of High Tech High, where students are “involved in multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects” makes her think of her own Montessori education, “an educational approach for elementary school students, which emphasizes independent learning and exploration.”

So she asks the filmmakers if Montessori ever came up while they were working on the project. Why, yes, they tell her — it kept coming up. I’ll just give you the whole quote:

“One of the key interviews in our film is [with] this economist named Andy McAfee, out of M.I.T. He was a product of Montessori schools. He gave us this great quote, where he tells this story that for the first few years of his life, [he] just developed this keen interest in x, y and z, because [he] was allowed to explore. [He] was allowed to poke at things and kind of learn in a way that Montessori celebrates. And then, because he aged out, or maybe because his parents moved, he went to a more traditional school, and he said, ’it just killed me. It was just so painful.’ ”

(Longtime readers will remember McAfee from this post. Furthermore:)

[Executive ProducrTed] Dintersmith added that there was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago about the “Montessori Mafia” — people like Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Wikipedia founder James Wales, and Google Co-Founders and Stanford Alumni Larry Page M.S. ’98 and Sergey Brin M.S. ’95 all of whom spent their formative years in a Montessori school. The “Montessori Mafia” found that Montessori was the best education experience of their lives. So, Dintersmith asked, “Why is it in 2015, when the world begs for the characteristics that get promoted in Montessori school, [why do] we send kids to this desert called middle [school], high school and college?”

Oh dear. Because Heeney also says this:

As someone who’s a product of a Montessori School — I attended one from kindergarten to grade six, when Montessori ends

Of course, Montessori is more than “an educational approach for elementary school students”, and extends from birth to age 18. Heeney may be interested to learn of the AMI training and classrooms for ages 0-3, developed in collaboration with Dr. Montessori, the proliferation of 3-6 programs, and of the recent extension into adolescent work under the auspices of AMI and NAMTA, as well as the many other Montessori programs extending their work into secondary education since the 1970s. Actually, she is probably aware of it now, since several Montessorians have piped up in the comments on the article. Heeney even referred to the responses on Twitter, so we know she still has that spark of life-long learning we can no doubt attribute to Montessori.


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