Why I Fell in Love with Montessori and with Woodland
During the summer of 1997 I parked my ancient (even then) Toyota Corolla on Colby street and
noticed several children on the other side of a fence enjoying themselves while chatting beneath
the shade of an old Silver Maple. I walked up the steps and into a brick building that would
change the course of my life forever.
As a young mother, I was immediately struck, once inside Woodland, by the reverence and trust
for children that I had never before felt throughout an entire community. I fell in love with the
philosophy and with this school - and still every day the relationship continues to deepen.
Today I will share with you a few of the many many reasons I love Montessori, and in particular,
Trust- the deep level of trust Dr. Montessori challenged educators to embody when working
with children is one of the main reasons I love the philosophy. 100 years ago trusting children
(when they were to be seen and not heard) was a radical notion. Today, trust is a concept I
continue to deeply admire as I consider how it challenges us as the grownups to trust what
children say, to trust their experience, and sometimes it means that we must trust that they will
get through something challenging or painful (with or without us) and be stronger from it.
Respect - Respecting children was also a radical notion in the early 1900s. During this time
children were thought to be empty vessels into which adults needed to pour knowledge.
Respect for us as Montessorians today in 2019 has us considering cultural responsiveness,
dual languages, home-life representation at school, inclusion, family structures, and the child’s
right to play and purposeful work.
The Need for Purposeful Work - “When a grownup thinks of work, he thinks of doing something
as a means to an end — spending his days in an office for the sake of a salary — but a child’s work
is based on doing things for their own sake.” ~Maria Montessori
Often families today don’t need children in the same way they did 100 years ago (contribute to
income or help with chores). That said, children still need to be needed. Children need to
contribute to a community in order to gain a sense of the self in the larger world, to feel purpose, and
to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Montessori classrooms are prepared in such a way that a child’s contributions are needed. Children
need to water the plants or they will wilt, the Youngers need the Elders to help zip their coats so they
can get outside, early morning children need to prepare snack for their classmates, and late-day
children need to put the chairs up at the end of the day so the floors may be swept. Children have
purposeful work in Montessori classrooms and their contributions to the community are important.
This purpose, this sense of importance, is essential to the healthy development of citizens of the
world who will contribute ethically, and with a sense of responsibly.
Beauty - As a poet, I am drawn to beauty, nuance, peace, detail, and intention. The first time I
walked into a Montessori classroom I observed a four-year-old clipping the stem ends off of white
daisies and placing them one by one into a tall slender glass vase. She paused at four flowers and
positioned each yellow center in a different direction. She then glanced around the classroom before
heading to a low window sill to set the daisies in the center of the wood ledge. She stepped back
and smiled at her work before returning to the flower station to sweep up discarded stem pieces and
mop up small drips of escaped water with a purple sponge. She hummed a short tune as she
finished up her work….be still my beating poet heart!
Many more reasons too! - Let me count the ways - and we will! This year we plan to have several
wonderful Woodland teachers sharing their love of the Montessori philosophy throughout the year
with this blog! Look for posts that:
● garner an appreciation for food and where it comes from with a discussion of food prep
● braid in Anti-Bias Anti-Racist lessons and materials for the home and classroom
● highlight inclusion and the Montessori philosophy work in tandem
● unpack for us Montessori’s approach to Literacy and Language
● dive into Art in the Montessori classroom
● discuss Montessori’s role in the Community
● explore the purpose of the Practical Life area of the classroom
● and much much more.
I hope this year of posts invites you to deepen your love for the school and for the Montessori