Some words on the high school experience for Montessori-educated students, from Santa Barbara Montessori Head of School Jim Fitzpatrick:
For children who have attended authentic Montessori schools, high
school is the opportunity for adolescents to continue the experiences
of their childhood. That is:
“How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved?” is the
experience of children in Montessori classrooms each and every day.
Children as young as 18 months, 3 years, or 11 years, are presented
with hands-on project based challenges that will likely be solved and
resolved in positive results (most of the time).
“The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for
long-term success,” is another daily experience in authentic
Montessori classrooms–to the extent that in some areas with specific
materials, the final lessons or activities follow years of
preparation, years! In fact, my TEDx presentation, “The Binomial Cube:
Key to the Universe” is an attempt to demonstrate how quadratic
equations are first introduced to 3 year olds with their activities
with Montessori’s binomial cube.
“How to read critically,” come on, Montessori six year olds are
learning how to read critically.
“The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving
clear delegated authority,” is the result of multi-aged classrooms in
Montessori’s time-tested approach. 9 year olds work actively alongside
6 year olds, etc. 12 year olds with the 9 year olds, 3 year olds with
6 year olds, etc.
“An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method,
in just about any situation or endeavor,” is the basis for dozens of
lessons throughout Montessori’s elementary curriculum, in fact, one of
Montessori’s books describing her elementary curriculum is titled,
“The Scientific Method.”
“How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in
writing and before a group,” takes place just about every week in
thousands of Montessori elementary and junior high classrooms around
“Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas,
projects and people,” in Montessori elementary classrooms is
accomplished with each child’s JOURNAL. Very complex but also very
very efficient in responsible self-management because the teacher
knows and so parents can know, too.
“Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and
leverage,” is learned in Montessori schools through the businesses the
children develop and manage, and also through their own fundraising
activities which often times benefit other organizations.
“An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever,” is
one of the most beneficial “skills” acquired through Montessori
experiences according to testimonials ranging from Sergei Brin to
Jimmy Wales to others in the ‘Montessori Mafia,’ plus the thousands of
other Montessorians out there.
Most of all, “the self-reliance that comes from understanding that
relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving,”
is perhaps best represented by Montessori alum, Julia Child? As a
neighnor here in Santa Barbara, her constant conversation with me was
her ongoing effort to learn more, share more, and do more.