Montessori method: an alternative educational style in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is famous for its public schools. It depends a bit on the district, but in general you can find schools with very high ratings that give a very high level preparation for the best collages in US.

There also many private schools in the area and some of them offer an “alternative” method.

In this post we would like to introduce you one of the most popular one: the Montessori method.

Maria Montessori was born in 1870, in Italy and she was the first woman to be granted a medical degree from an Italian University.

She then became director of a school for intellectual disabled children letting them obtain very good results in public examinations.

That’s why she thought her method could be useful for “normal”, mainstream children too.

In 1907 she created her first pre-school, Casa dei Bambini in Rome. She immediately realized that children have an innate ability to learn. Children almost taught themselves! Starting from this simple truth she started to put all her efforts on her revolutionary educational reform, based also on her strong medical knowledge of the human brain.

She strongly believed school is the place where children naturally develop and like sponges they absorb everything if the environment and the guide is good. Montessori method values creativity and individuality much more than traditional methods. The child is not only a student but also a teacher. That’s why, for example, in the elementary Montessori schools kids from grade1 to grade 3 are in the same classrooms. Older kids help younger ones.

Kids become enthusiastic learners because their curiosity is welcome; they are self-motivated students because teachers are just observers and guides; they are compassionate and able to solve conflicts.

Key guidelines of Montessori method are:

  • use of self-correcting materials to pursue kids’ independence
  • mixed-age groups
  • sensitive periods of development (learning windows): birth to age 6 (absorbent mind); age 6 to 12; age 12 to 18.
  • learning involves movement and manipulative experience (sensory skills)
  • structured environment enhances child’s freedom
  • furniture should accommodate children’s size (no fixed desks)
  • materials should be accessible
  • children shouldn’t be forced to learn
  • rewards and punishment are unneeded
  • teachers guide children’s learning without interfering with it.
  • importance of “practical life” skills

In 1950s the Montessori method enjoyed a strong revival in USA. In 1960 the American Montessori Society was born, a more up-to-date and americanized version of the method (criticized anyway by Association Montessori Internationale’s head, Mario Montessori).

In Silicon Valley there are many Montessori pre-schools and few elementary schools.

Many believe Montessori education is the right one in the 21th century when children will experience career paths very different from the 20th century’s ones requiring high capacity to innovate, adapt, self-motivate and produce, and, not less important, to be happy and with a strong self-esteem.

Some of the most famous entrepreneurs and innovators of today have actively credited their success to the education they received in a Montessori classroom (https://amiusa.org/why-ami-montessori/)

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  • Jeff Bezos | Founder of Amazon.com
  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page | Co-founders of Google
  • Will Wright | Designer of The Sims video games
  • Anne Frank | Renowned World War II diarist
  • Katherine Graham | Owner-editor of The Washington Post
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs | Rapper and CEO of Bad Boy Records
  • Julia Child | First world-famous television chef
  • Prince William & Prince Harry | Sons of the Prince of Wales
  • Helen Hunt | Academy Award-winning actress
  • George Clooney | Academy Award-wining actor
  • Chelsea Clinton | Daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
  • Joshua Bell | American violinist
  • Lea Salonga | Multi-awarded singer and Broadway actress