What do Google and Montessori have in common? Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of the multi-billion online search engine Google are Montessori graduates! On a Barbara Walters ABC-TV special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People Of 2004", Larry Page and Sergey Brin credited their years as Montessori students as a major factor behind their success.
When Barbara asked Larry and Sergey if the fact that their parents were college professors was a factor behind their success, they said no, that it was their going to Montessori school where they learned to be self-directed and self-starters. They said that Montessori allowed them to learn to think for themselves and gave them freedom to pursue their own interests.
Did you know a lot of other famous people went to a Montessori school? People like Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com; Prince William and Prince Harry of the British Royal Family; Peter Drucker, executive management guru; Jackie Kennedy Onassis, former first lady of the USA; Katherine Graham, owner/editor of the Washington Post; Julia Child, famous chef, star of many TV cooking shows and author of numerous cookbooks; Anne Frank, famous diarist from World War II; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature; and many others.
The Montessori classroom is designed to promote self-discipline, independence and responsibility. Academically, children develop a foundation in language and math skills, physical and cultural geography, botany, physical science, history, music and art. They also learn practical life skills such as cooking, carpentry, sewing and cleaning. With the Montessori Method, a child receives a broad academic education in a carefully planned, stimulating community and environment. The goal is to prepare children for a lifetime of creative thinking and learning.
In traditional classrooms, students are seated in rows of chairs facing a blackboard. This arrangement is centered on the notion that the teacher is the ultimate source of knowledge that must be transmitted to the student. In the Montessori classroom, the teacher is positioned as a guide to discovery of knowledge. Montessori teachers are called Directresses or Directors and are certified after hundreds of hours of specialized training (elementary Montessori teachers are also BC-certified Teachers). The carefully prepared environment and method provide discipline and the Montessori teacher provides guidance. Dr. Maria Montessori said, "The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, the children are now working as if I do not exist."
Also, because of the multi-age group in a Montessori classroom, peer tutoring becomes a vital part of the environment, unlike traditional classrooms. The older children provide leadership, guidance, and act as models for the younger children. The older children also benefit by helping younger children, reinforcing previous skills, and knowledge and benefiting from the satisfaction of helping others. The mix of ages also provides opportunities for a variety of safe, lasting, and meaningful friendships. In addition, they learn social responsibility.
Parents of young children in today’s world want to feel safe and secure in leaving their children in an environment that provides for all of their academic, social and emotional needs. A Montessori environment not only meets all of the above needs, but it also teaches children an "I can do it" attitude that will ensure their future success in all aspects of their life. It is no wonder that a lot of famous people got their start as Montessori students.
Katharine Chernyak is the Communications Coordinator and Member of the Board of Directors at Four Seasons Montessori, a progressive Montessori school offering Preschool and Elementary programs. Have questions? You can reach the school at 250-758-8979.