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Montessori Methods – Worth a (Re)Look

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The techniques developed by Maria Montessori are getting some press recently.  What is interesting is that Montessori methods cannot be more diametrically opposed to the current teacher-driven, standards-based, test-infused system that is common in many school environments throughout the globe.

The Harvard Business Review featured an article today, July 25, 2011, entitled Montessori Builds Innovators.

Shouldn’t we be paying a great deal of attention to the educational method that produced, among others, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Wales, Peter Drucker, Julia Child, David Blaine, and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs? They were all students in Montessori schools. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Sims, there’s a “Montessori Mafia” among the creative elite. So maybe there’s something to the method Italian physician Maria Montessori came up with around the turn of the 20th century.

. . . and from the Wall Street Journal article, Montessori Mafia.

The Montessori Mafia showed up in an extensive, six-year study about the way creative business executives think. Professors Jeffrey Dyer of Brigham Young University and Hal Gregersen of globe-spanning business school INSEAD surveyed over 3,000 executives and interviewed 500 people who had either started innovative companies or invented new products.

“A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity,” Mr. Gregersen said. “To paraphrase the famous Apple ad campaign, innovators not only learned early on to think different, they act different (and even talk different).”

Will Wright, inventor of bestselling “The Sims” videogame series, heaps similar praise.  “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery,” Mr. Wright said, “It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you.  SimCity comes right out of Montessori…”

. . . and yet for more evidence of the efficacy of Montessori Methods, Google Founders, Page and Brin, credit Montessori School for their success:

If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?
Maria Montessori

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm

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