Converted by Maria Montessori

Converted by Maria Montessori

The Fransson FamilyAngela and I are blessed with two of the most wonderful children ever created.

And they are growing up fast.

But the moment I learned I was going to be a daddy doesn’t feel like yesterday.  Time accordioned outward because the six years since then are jam-packed with a lifetime of experiences.  The emotions, however, that came with the news are still fresh.  Overwhelming joy.  And an enormous sense of responsibility.

Angela immediately began to adapt.  Maternal instinct, or wisdom?  Character vs. nature?  I’m not sure, but boy did she do it right.  I just followed along behind her, which pretty much describes our relationship.  She was also the one most concerned about the day-care our daughter was in, and intent on finding a better alternative.  I couldn’t have agreed more, but was petrified about making a decision.  My experience with education was so horrible that the thought of having to decide on when and where to drop my daughter into it was terrifying.

Aside from my own childhood, I had taught 4th and 5th grade at a private school in Los Angeles, where I was pursuing a teaching credential.  Until, that is, that I realized the system was so broken it would crush me long before I could make a difference from within.  Abandoning education, I entered the corporate world, and never looked back.  But now I had to make a choice that would affect my daughter’s entire life. I was afraid of subjecting her to a type of oppression that would result in her becoming disenchanted with learning and failing to achieve her potential as a result.

Montessori ClassroomAfter visiting a variety of pre-schools, Angela was excited about a Montessori school accredited by the Association Montessori International.  Although I had heard the term Montessori, I knew nothing about it.  But different was good, so I brought hopefulness with me to our first visit.  During the initial discussions and the tour I was very impressed by the classroom environments and the approach outlined by the Director of Education and Admissions.  It felt right, and we set up an appointment to observe a class in session.

We took our seats and watched the children in action.  There was a low-level hum in the classroom, and a peaceful relaxed environment.  I watched the children go about their lessons, slowly taking in what was happening.  And I began to cry.

This was a transcendent spiritual experience.  The 4, 5 and 6 year olds were all engaged in self-directed education.  They were happily and busily exploring their world.  They were interacting with each other with respect.  They were working together.  And some of the older ones were helping the younger ones, with no assistance from the teacher.  It was completely foreign to anything I had experienced before.  And in a good way.

Vicki McCarthy, Head of School at MCMSNeedless to say, our two children are enrolled in the Madison Community Montessori School.  We’ve been extremely pleased to see them blossom in the amazing environment created by the dedicated staff, who are passionate about the methods of Maria Montessori.

Full disclosure.  I’m now on the MCMS Board, and have recently joined the Montessori Madmen, “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.”

I’m so passionate about the power of this amazing method that I am working to further expand and extend the message about the Montessori difference, and what it could mean to our civilization if we were to adopt this method of education.  There will be additional blogs on this and related topics.  But for now, I’ll leave you with this video, which, like the Montessori method, makes learning easy and fun.


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