Montessori Madmen

Advocating Montessori

We're an impatient, ragtag group of dads and advocates from around the world, united by a common zeal to bring the Montessori method to millions more. Our mission is simple: to advocate for Montessori education so that one day it's not called Montessori school; it's just called school.

Letter #1

Dear Friend,

Here is a short introduction to Montessori written by my friend Daniel Petter-Lipstein.

Superwoman Was Already Here and Her Name Was Dr. Maria Montessori

Please see this six-minute animation that was featured in the Wall St. Journal.

This animation was based on a short article of the same name.

There are hundreds of public Montessori schools achieving superb results in low-income communities across the country.

The Milwaukee NAACP recently noted in a report:

"Prospects for educational achievement are brightest for Milwaukee Public School students who are enrolled in Montessori Schools."

In East Dallas, in a low-income neighborhood where less than half of entering freshmen graduate from high school, 95% of East Dallas Community Schools (just by attending a public Montessori program for K-3) graduates earn their HS diplomas, with 89% of those graduates attending college.

Anne Williams-Isom, the COO of Geofrrey Canda's Harlem Children's Zone, is a Montessori mom and wrote her own eloquent testament to Montessori where she stated:

"Somehow Maria Montessori understood differential learning long before it became a fancy term. Daniel is right. Maria Montessori was indeed a Superwoman.

I agree that the Montessori Method could have many positive implications for the education of children who grow up in economically disadvantaged families and underserved communities. This is true for all of the reasons listed above. Additionally, as Daniel has described, there are also countless benefits to having a calm and peaceful environment – especially for children who live in stressful situations. For those children who may be growing up in chaotic circumstances, calm and order can actually have a profound and healing effect. Being able to freely explore without someone telling you to sit down or sit still, and being allowed to be curious while having your good choices supported are all things that all kids need but that children that come from challenging backgrounds need even more."

In 1963, James Baldwin in his famous "Talk to Teachers" noted:

"I would try to make him know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger – and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything."

Only in schools where questioning answers matters more than answering questions can James Baldwin's words begin to be realized for America's black, brown, yellow, white, purple and green children.

Montessori is a system where that takes place.

Signed, Parent/Montessorian

Letter #2

Dear Author/Writer/Editor,

I loved your article. I think you would be fascinated with Montessori schools. Have you had the chance to research Montessori education?

Here is a quick and fun little video to give you a taste of it.

Also, here is a good website for exploring Montessori in a little more detail.

Absolutely the best way to learn about Montessori schools is to visit one. They are eager to welcome visitors. I would be happy to help facilitate a visit for you in a school in your area so you could observe the classroom(s) and experience Montessori for yourself.

Signed, Parent/Montessorian

Letter #3

Dear Friend: Below is a brief but informative summary on Montessori education. I thought it would be a good place to start! Enjoy.

School should be a place where children are prepared for life. The best way to do this is in an environment where the work, school policies, and teachers are designed, written and trained based upon the following questions:

  1. What does the child need now and how can we meet that need?
  2. What will this child look like as an adult?

These are very simple questions. They are often the ones most parents ask themselves on a daily basis. However, the answers are very complex. In fact, since we are all unique individuals, the answer may be different for nearly each and every child.

Montessori education, created by Dr. Maria Montessori more than 100 years ago is based upon these very ideas. The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment designed to allow children to develop the skills they need, as individuals, at the time when they need them most. There are several important aspects of the environment, which are a departure from traditional education; Classes are composed of a balanced mixed age group with a three-year age span from youngest to oldest. This allows for individualized and collaborative learning on a social and academic level. Children spend 3 years in the environment, moving from youngest, to middle, to the oldest child. The teacher is specially trained and acts as a guide, facilitating discovery and understanding as opposed to memorization and compliance. Mistakes are encouraged while effort and the process are valued over the result. Children also hold a significant amount of responsibility for themselves and their environment including classroom order, work choice and many opportunities for independent growth and leadership.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even discussed the academics yet! Dr. Montessori was drastically ahead of her time when it came to understanding child brain development. She designed hands-on materials and lessons that build upon each other starting with basic, concrete concepts and gradually moving toward abstraction. Each material isolates a specific area of learning, which allows children to fully refine the skill as they progress. As a result, children develop an extremely strong base in the fundamental elements of academics. As innovative as they are however, the math, language and cultural materials take a back seat to the life skills which truly dictate a child’s transition into adulthood. No program does this better than Montessori.

What’s the best part about all this? There are nearly 5,000 Montessori schools in the United States. So that means there is probably one located not too far from your home. One little letter cannot do the program justice. You need to go and see for yourself. Schedule a classroom observation today. Your child will thank you.

Signed, Parent/Montessorian

Letter #4

April 22, 2013

Dean... College of...

Good morning, Dean...:

I'm writing to recommend that the...College create a dual degree program with (Southwest Institute of Montessori).  The program could allow students to earn their M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Montessori Education while completing their AMI Primary training with (Southwest Institute of Montessori).  Similar partnerships already exist between the University of San Diego and The Montessori Institute of San Diego, the University of Hartford and the Montessori Training Institute of New England, and Loyola University Maryland and the Washington Montessori Institute.

Given the geographic proximity of your schools, timeliness regarding the President's focus on early childhood education, and the momentum of the research-supported Montessori movement, you are in position to lead at a pivotal time.  For more information on the Montessori philosophy, check out this video and this recent article in the Wall Street Journal. As [intro to self], I am also happy to answer any of your questions. Thank you for your time!

  Sincerely, [Name]