Making the Case for Montessori Education

Children confidently brim with new ideas about challenges to tackle, having learned that failure is acceptable and mistakes are merely learning opportunities.

Forbes: Corporate Kindergarten: How A Montessori Mindset Can Transform Your Business

The world is a really interesting place, and one that should be explored. Can there be any better foundation for an innovator in training?

Harvard Business Review: Montessori Builds Innovators

Alex Beam writes about famous Montessori alumni, Steven Levy’s new book about Google, and brain research in this compelling argument for Montessori education. As he says, “If Montessori was a stock, you would buy it!”

Boston Globe: Succeeding at Their Own Pace

The approach is over 100 years old but the ideas are timeless. The world is finally catching up with Maria Montessori’s insights.

Forbes: Is Montessori the Origin of Google and Amazon?

Ironically, the Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia.

Wall Street Journal: The Montessori Mafia


The most innovative entrepreneurs were very lucky to have been raised in an atmosphere where inquisitiveness was encouraged… A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity.

Harvard Business Review: How Do Innovators Think?

Montessori education provides better outcomes than traditional methods, according to study published in the journal Science.

Science Journal: Evaluating Montessori Education

From the latest edition of Science. It’s worth noting in advance that, if one were to design an educational system that were the exact opposite of No Child Left Behind, it would look a lot like Montessori’s approach…

The Frontal Cortex Science Blog: "Montessori Works"

You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori kids. In a Montessori school, you go paint because you have something to express…not because the teacher said so. This is baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, why should it be like that? It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.

Wired: Article on Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin

[Kids] can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than having a teacher explain stuff to you. And when kids discover these things on their own, what they learn sticks with them so much more.

Will Wright: Montessori Grad and Creator of SimCity & Spore

Comparing Students’ Academic Achievement in Montessori Environments and Public School Environments

Ervin et al. (2010) performed a three-year mixed methods study comparing self regulation in Montessori and non-Montessori classrooms. The subjects for this study were a cohort group of K, 1st, and 2nd grade students from three public school districts,and one independent Montessori school. In total 127 children in Montessori and 129 children in non-Montessori classrooms were compared. Thirty-three guides and teachersand over 200 parents were included in the study. Results from the study revealed that Montessori children:

  1. Needed less supervision;
  2. Were more likely to exhibit feelings of happiness and contentment;
  3. Were more likely to be proactive in using problem solving strategies when engaged in cognitive tasks;
  4. Monitored their own learning for correctness;
  5. Inquired, asked questions, and sought out information when the task was not fully understood;
  6. Developed internal standards of performance;
  7. Recognized academic areas in which they performed well and reacted positively to them;
  8. Recognized the good work of peers and used knowledge for self-judgment of their own performance;
  9. And Montessori children were enthusiastic and curious learners.

This research study found Montessori children had a higher level of self-regulation and more consistent growth in self-regulation skills, over a 3-year period, than non-Montessori children (Ervin et al., 2010). It also revealed an association between how well children internalized self-regulation and academic success. The researcher represented this finding as follows, “The positive results for Montessori children in rating of self-regulation and academic performance affirm the effectiveness of Montessori classroom practice in fostering positive work habits and internal motivation” (p. 30).

High School Outcomes for Students in a Public Montessori Program

Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22:2, 205-217

This research study by Kathryn Rindskopf Dohrmann, Tracy K. Nishida, Alan Gartner, Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky & Kevin J. Grimm (2007), tracked 400 students in Milwaukee. Half the students received only conventional, public school education from kindergarten to graduation. The other half attended Montessori schools through 5th grade before transitioning into the public school system. The two groups were carefully matched in terms of gender, ethnicity and family financial status. Comparing test scores and GPA’s at the end of the study revealed the children with some Montessori education not only outperformed the other group in math and science test scores, but also graduated with higher GPAs. The conclusion of the study was that early Montessori education had a long-term impact on later public school performance. At the very least, students transitioned excellently on an academic level.

Teacher as Decision-Maker

Boote (2006) referred to teachers as street-level bureaucrats who decide: What is taught, how (and if) it will be modulated to meet diverse learning needs, how to maintain a productive learning environment, and how to deal with the myriad unexpected events that provide the texture of classroom life (p. 462).

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s mission statement on developmentally appropriate practice asserts: Expert decision-making lies at the heart of effective teaching…Children benefit most from teachers who have the skills, knowledge, and judgment to make good decisions and are given the opportunity to use them. (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, p. 5)

Both portrayed teachers’ as decision makers with the power to make a positive difference in the learning potential of a child.

Sleeter and Stillman (2007) studied ten experienced elementary and middle school teacher’s responses to accountability reform in a low-performing California public school. The findings of this research revealed teachers used their expertise to make decisions about which standards to emphasize and which to skip altogether. This report revealed teachers made curricular choices about what to teach, even within a planned curriculum. Similar findings were garnered from a study of 45 elementary public school teachers with various levels of experience (Kennedy, 2005). The teachers in this study reported they made decisions about what and how to teach, not only as a result of institutional guidelines and scripted curricula, but also as a result of their own personal beliefs and values. Data collected in these two studies revealed teachers’ continue to have pedagogical power in their classrooms, regardless of the pressures from above.

Resources

Online Resources

You can learn more about the Montessori teaching method by visiting these sites:

Recommended Reading

Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler
The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline S. Lillard, PhD
The Absorbant Mind by Maria Montessori
The Montessori Way: An Education for Life by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein
From Childhood to Adolescence by Maria Montessori
To Educate the Human Potential by Maria Montessori
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control is the Engine of Success by Walter Mischel
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Ted Talks

Watch Will Wright’s TED talk here.

Montessori Terminology

American Montessori Society

Free Podcasts

Montessori For Parents

Video Resources

“What Children Really Get Out of a Montessori Education” by Montessori Expert Tim Seldin

“MONTESSORI 101: Some Basic Information that Every Montessori Parent Should Know” also by Tim Seldin, President of The Montessori Foundation.


Imagine a School: Montessori for Elementary Age Learners

Famous Montessorians


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Larry Page

Google founder

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Lawrence “Larry” Page (born March 26, 1973) is an American business magnate and computer scientist who is the co-founder of Google, alongside Sergey Brin.


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Sergey Brin

Google founder

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Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (born August 21, 1973) is an American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who, with Larry Page, co-founded Google, one of the most profitable Internet companies.


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Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs

Rapper and CEO of Bad Boy Productions

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Sean John Combs (born November 4, 1969), also known by his stage names Puff Daddy, Diddy, and P. Diddy, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur.


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Dakota Fanning

Actress

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Hannah Dakota Fanning (born February 23, 1994) is an American actress who rose to prominence after her breakthrough performance at age seven in the 2001 film I Am Sam.


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Julia Child

Celebrity chef and author

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Julia Carolyn Child (née McWilliams; August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author, and television personality.


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Will Wright

Video Game Pioneer

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William Ralph “Will” Wright (born January 20, 1960) is an American video game designer and co-founder of the game development company Maxis, now part of Electronic Arts (EA).


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Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Co-Founder

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Jimmy Donal “Jimbo” Wales (born August 7, 1966) is an American Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder and promoter of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia and the for-profit Wikia web-hosting company.


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Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Nobel Prize winning author of "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude"

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Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America.


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Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder and CEO

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Jeffrey Preston “Jeff” Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is an American business magnate and investor.


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Anne Frank

Author, diarist from World War II

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Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank (12 June 1929 – early March 1945) was a diarist and writer. She was one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust.


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Beyonce Knowles

Pop/R&B singer, songwriter, actress and fashion designer

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Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (born September 4, 1981) is an American singer and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny’s Child.


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Taylor Swift

Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter

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Taylor Alison Swift born (December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter and actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music.


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Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Editor, former first lady (John F. Kennedy)

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Jacqueline Lee (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis commonly known as “Jackie” (July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994) was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.


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David Blaine

Illusionist and magician

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David Blaine (born David Blaine White; April 4, 1973) is an American magician, illusionist and endurance artist. He is best known for his high-profile feats of endurance, and has made his name as a performer of street and close-up magic.


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Joshua Bell

Grammy Award-winning violinist and conductor

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Joshua David Bell (born December 9, 1967) is an American Grammy Award-winning violinist and conductor.


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T. Berry Brazelton

Pediatrician and author

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Thomas Berry Brazelton (born May 10, 1918) is a noted pediatrician and author in the United States. Major hospitals throughout the world use the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS).


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Peter Drucker

Author, management consultant, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, considered the “father of modern management”

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Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.


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Katherine Graham

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former owner and editor of 'The Washington Post'

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Katharine Meyer Graham (June 16, 1917 – July 17, 2001) was an American publisher. She led her family’s newspaper, The Washington Post, for more than two decades, overseeing its most famous period, the Watergate coverage that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


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Helen Hunt

Academy and Emmy Awards-winning actress

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Helen Elizabeth Hunt (born June 15, 1963) is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years before being cast as single mother Carol Connelly in the 1997 romantic comedy film, As Good as It Gets for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.


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Melissa Gilbert

Actress

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Melissa Ellen Gilbert (born May 8, 1964) is an American actress and television director. Gilbert began her career as a child actress in the late 1960s appearing in numerous commercials and guest starring roles on television.


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Sara Gilbert

Actress

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Sara Gilbert (born Sara Rebecca Abeles; January 29, 1975) is an American actress, best known for her role as Darlene Conner on the ABC sitcom Roseanne from 1988 to 1997, as co-host and creator of the daytime talk show The Talk and for her recurring role as Leslie Winkle on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory.


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Kami Cotler

Actress and educator

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Kami Cotler (born June 17, 1965) is an American actress and educator. She is best known for her role as young Elizabeth Walton, which she played in both the 1971 movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and the series The Waltons.


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Jeremy Allaire

Creator of the web development tool ColdFusion

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Jeremy D. Allaire is an American-born technologist and Internet entrepreneur. He is currently CEO and founder of the digital currency company Circle and Chairman of the Board of Brightcove.

Devi Sridhar

Youngest American Rhodes Scholar

Montessorian Supporters


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Alexander Graham Bell

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Inventor of the first practical telephone, founded two of the first Montessori schools in the US and Canada

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Thomas Edison

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Inventor of the incandescent light bulb, helped Dr. Montessori gain support in the US

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Fred "Mister" Rogers

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Children’s TV show host was a strong advocate for Montessori

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Yo-Yo Ma

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Renowned cellist said about his daughter, “Structure is an absolutely important part of the creative life, and Emily got this from her Montessori experience.”

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Helen Keller

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Humanitarian and co-founder of the ACLU inspired by Montessori wrote, “I believe that every child has hidden away somewhere in his being, noble capacities which may be quickened and developed if we go about it in the right way.”

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Jean Piaget

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Swiss psychologist made his first observations of children in a Montessori school and served as head of the Swiss Montessori Society for many years.

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Woodrow Wilson

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28th US President created a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House. His daughter, Margaret Wilson, was on the committee that brought Dr. Montessori to the US in 1915.

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Alice Waters

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Restaurateur (Chez Panisse), Author and Trained Montessori Teacher