Traditional classrooms are instructor-centric and involve a general curriculum taught to the entire group at once. For children, this environment is impersonal and often stifles learning, producing inferior developmental and educational outcomes. The Montessori method stands in direct contrast, promoting a child-focused, self-paced learning environment for well-rounded development.
This list of influential individuals are known for their creativity, initiative, and self confidence.
What do all these independent thinking, self-directed, inventive people have in common?
A Montessori education!
Singer, songwriter, actress and fashion designer, 16-time Grammy award-winner
In Houston, at St. Mary of the Purification Montessori, Beyoncé’s talents first emerged. In a school that valued both art and academics, a top student and world-class performer was born. Today Beyoncé has been nominated for more Grammy awards than anyone in history and is one of pop music’s most highly-regarded figures.
Magician, Illusionist, endurance artist
David Blaine was a four-year old Montessori student when he fell in love with magic. Today he’s called “the modern day Houdini” by The New York Times, which says, “He’s taken a craft that’s been around for hundreds of years and done something unique and fresh with it… [His magic] “operates on an uncommonly personal level.”
Viennese artist & architect
This world-renowned Austrian painter and architect attended a Montessori school in Vienna, which influenced both his affinity for vibrant colors and his love of nature. He collected pebbles and pressed flowers as a child, demonstrating an early interest in small, precious things—which later manifested itself in his work.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Nobel Prize Winner for Literature
The Colombian author of “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” attended a Montessori school as a child. Marquez said his Montessori education gave him “the desire to kiss literature” and states, “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.”
Political activist, author, lecturer, awarded the presidential medal of freedom
Maria Montessori said that if, deaf and blind, Helen Keller became “a woman and writer of exceptional culture, who better than she proves the potency of [the Montessori] method?” In her tribute to Montessori, Helen’s teacher observes, “Only through freedom can people develop self control, self dependence, willpower and initiative. This is the lesson Helen’s education has for the world.”
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Former First Lady, Editor
As a child, the former First Lady attended Miss Chapin’s School for Girls in Manhattan. Miss Chapin was a pioneer in education for girls; she attended Dr Montessori’s New York lectures in the 1930s and enthusiastically included Montessori methods in her classrooms.
Founder of Amazon.com
Amazon’s founder, who proudly cites his Montessori roots, is a study in contradictions: analytical and intuitive, careful and audacious, playful and determined. Critics note his extraordinary ability to learn from others, one hallmark of Montessori education. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to Jeff Bezos’ mother, “young Jeff would get so engrossed in his activities as a Montessori preschooler that his teachers would literally have to pick him up out of his chair to go to the next task.
Culinary Artist and Author
In her book “Julia Child and Company,” Ms. Child says that Montessori learning taught her to love working with her hands. A student of Mrs. Davie’s Montesorri School in Pasadena California, Ms. Child exuded a sense of fun and inspired others to try new things in the kitchen. She credits a Montessori background with her manual dexterity—a key feature of her mastery as a chef—and with the love and joy she found in her work.
Larry Page & Sergey Brin
Co-Founders of Google
Both attended Montessori preschool and both highlight that it was Montessori education that contributed to their independent thinking and success. “You can’t understand Google,” says Wired, “unless you know [its founders] were Montessori kids… In a Montessori school, you paint because you have something to express or you just want to… not because the teacher said so. This is baked into Larry and Sergey… it’s how their brains were programmed early on.”
Author, Management consultant, “social ecologist”, awarded the presidential medal of freedom
Peter Drucker, once a Montessori child, is one of the most influential management gurus in history. His work focuses on human relationships as opposed to numbers-crunching; his books are filled with lessons on how organizations can bring out the best in people, and how workers can find dignity and community in their work.
Author of The Diary of Anne Frank
The famous diarist from World War II went to a Montessori school while living in Amsterdam. Anne Frank’s famous diary is a natural extension of her school experience. She—like all Montessori students—learned to cultivate observation skills and record her thoughts in a journal early on. Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into 67 languages and is one of the best loved books in the world today.
Sean “P.Diddy” Combs
Grammy award-winning musician, rap recording artist and ceo of bad boy records
The multi-talented hip hop artist Sean “P Diddy” Combs says he feels fortunate to have attended Mount Vernon Montessori School during his childhood, recalling that, “I feel like I was nurtured into wanting to be somebody special”.
Yo Yo Ma
Cellist United nations Peace Ambassador, winner of 15 Grammy Awards, Presidential Medal of Freedom & National Medal of the Arts
A child prodigy cellist and Montessori student, Yo Yo Ma learned to early to follow his own interests and think outside traditional definitions. Today, critics call his artistic style “omnivorous” in reference to his versatility, his notably eclectic repertoire and his musical iconoclasm.
Other Notable Montessorians:
- Mark Zuckerberg – Co-founder of Facebook
- Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
- Devi Sridhar – Youngest-ever American Rhodes scholar, author, oxford research fellow, oxford lecturer on global health politics
- George Clooney – Academy award-winning actor, director, producer, humanitarian, United nations messenger of peace
- Will Wright – Video game pioneer, creator of the Sims
- Taylor Swift – Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter
- Shari Lewis – Puppeteer
- Andrew Lloyd Webber – British Composer
- Bill and Hillary Clinton – Former President and New York Senator
- Michael Douglas – Actor
- Katharine Graham – Pulitzer prize-winning author and Former owner & editor of the Washington Post
- Prince William & Prince Harry – Future King of England and Royal Prince
- Jimmy Wales – founder of Wikipedia
- Anne Hathaway – Actress
- Helen Hunt – Academy award-winning actress
- Joshua Bell – Grammy award-winning violinist
- John & Joan Cusack – Actor and screenwriter, and Academy award-nominated actress
- Bill & Hillary Clinton – Former President and New York Senator
- Melissa & Sarah Gilbert – Actresses
- Erik Erikson – Psychologist & author
Gandhi’s practice of satyagraha had distinct influence on the development of Dr. Maria Montessori’s perspective on peace education and fostered the start of many Montessori schools for the lower caste systems in India. Gandhi was very interested in the Montessori system of education and he personally taught the children in his Ashrams using a technique similar to the one Dr. Montessori developed. Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi in London in October 1931. On October 28, 1931, at Maria Montessori’s invitation, Gandhi spoke at the Montessori Training College in London.
During Montessori’s stay in India (1939 – 1946), she and Gandhi communicated with one another. One of the letters Montessori wrote to Gandhi is on display at his Ashram in Sevagram. Montessori and Gandhi both strongly believed that to have real peace, we must begin with the children.
Famous individuals linked through Montessori as supporters of the method:
- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor. He and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Education Association in 1913. They also provided financial support directly to Dr. Maria Montessoriand helped establish the first Montessori class in Canada and one of the first in the United States.
- Fred Rogers, children’s TV personality, was a strong supporter of Montessori education.
- Thomas Edison, scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school.
- President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. There was a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during Wilson’s presidency.
- Alice Waters, restaurateur and writer, is a former Montessori teacher.
- Bruno Bettelheim, noted psychologist/author, was married to a Montessori teacher.
- Jean Piaget, noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school. He was also head of the Swiss Montessori Society for many years.
- Robert Frost – Poet Laureate. One of Americans best read poets.
At Eden Prairie Montessori Learning Center, we’ve been carefully guiding children for over 20 years. To learn more about our child care center in Eden Prairie and programs, contact us at 952-777-3606. We look forward to meeting you!
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