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The Montessori Adult

Let's say a kid goes to a Montessori school.  He learns to wash his dishes, peel a cucumber, and tie his shoes.  Then what?  Fast forward -- what does he look like as an adult?  
 
We believe that a Montessori education is the necessary foundation for an adult who is capable, curious, innovative, kind, and can navigate an ever-changing world with grace and confidence.  
 
How can we make such a claim?  Take a look at some of these adult Montessorians who changed the world as we know it:
 

The Creators of Google

In 2004, ABC's Barbara Walters asked Larry Page and Sergey Brin about the secret to their success. Both Mr. Page and Mr. Brin had college professors for parents. She wondered if that familial connection to learning played into their success. They said no. Their parents helped, but really their Montessori education was the key. Brin and Page specifically pointed to the curriculum of self-directed learning – where students follow their interests and decide for themselves what they want to learn. 

"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," says Page, who's now CEO of Google. 

The transformation from college friends to twin billionaires took several turns. Google may have never taken off if Brin and Page didn't keep asking themselves: What else can I do? What do I find interesting? How can I make that happen?

As Forbes pointed out last year, Google "wasn’t launched by Larry Page and Sergei Brin as a brilliant vision, but rather as a project to improve library searches, followed by a series of small discoveries that unlocked a revolutionary business model." The Forbes article credits Montessori education for allowing them to keep tinkering. "Overall," it says, "there was resonance with the idea that education concerns inspiring students to become life-long learners with a love of education."

This model has seeped into Google's corporate culture, as well. The company is famous for its 20-percent rule. Employees should spend one day a week working on something that isn't in their job description. Basically, be self-directed. This Montessori ideal has led to many major Google products: Google Maps, Alerts, Reader, and many more.

 

The Founder of Amazon

 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stands as a prominent alumnus of a Montessori education.

"Mr. Bezos often compares Amazon’s strategy of developing ideas in new markets to 'planting seeds' or 'going down blind alleys,' " writes The Wall Street Journal. "Amazon’s executives learn and uncover opportunities as they go. Many efforts turn out to be dead ends, Mr. Bezos has said, 'But every once in a while, you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue.' "

 

The Greatest Chef/Entertainer 

In her book Julia Child and Company, Ms. Child says that Montessori learning taught her to love working with her hands. 

"[Maria] Montessori wanted kids to develop 'a friendly relationship to error,' – to understand that mistakes are a normal part of learning, and that to learn, you must be willing to make mistakes, and then to move forward," writes John Long, head of a Montessori school in Houston, who wrote about Child's connection to Montessori education.

That's certainly the schtick behind the famous Saturday Night Live sketch, where Child (played by Dan Aykroyd) ruins just about every part of the meal, yet rolls right along. Child always was graceful under stress. 

 

The Creator of Wikipedia

If you want to learn more about Montessori – the woman or the teaching philosophy – you can always turn to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia run by Montessori graduate Jimmy Wales

"As a child, Wales was a keen reader with an acute intellectual curiosity and, in what he credits to the influence of the Montessori method on the school’s philosophy of education, 'spent lots of hours pouring [sic] over the Britannicas and World Book Encyclopedias,' " says Mr. Wales' own Wikipedia entry.

 

Acclaimed Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author of Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude attended a Montessori school as a child. The Nobel prize winner has said, “I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.”

 

Video Game Pioneer

Will Wright created The Sims, SimCity, and Spore. Each of his widely successful games shares a certain spirit. For one thing, they rarely ever say "The End." Instead, his games let you tinker toward perfection, but let you define that perfection. Whether mapping out a digital city or directing the lives of a pixelated family, players follow whatever path interests them.

“Montessori taught me the joy of discovery," Mr. Wright told The Wall Street Journal. "It showed you 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 a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori."

 
 
Coming soon!
 
Learn about MCHD's Montessori adults!  We'll share stories of our own graduates, including those who came back to join our staff or those who have chosen to bring their own children back to MCHD.  Find out where our alum have gone after leaving MCHD.