“Oh yeah, I’ve seen those kids running around among the trees.”
That was the response I got when I told someone that my children attend a Montessori school.
It was a year or two ago and I was at a friend’s 40th birthday party.
My husband and I were chatting to a man about our own age whom we hadn’t met before and who lives not too far from us.
The conversation soon turned to children, as it often does, and he asked us which school our children go to.
It’s like the ‘So what does your father do?’ question of a generation ago.
So much hinges on your response. Instant judgments are made. And you can multiply that a thousandfold when you’ve chosen something outside the norm for your child.
Now, I’m extremely comfortable in telling people about Montessori (in fact my friends know to avoid the subject or they could be in for a long chat!). I know without a doubt that Montessori is the best education method available and I’m happy to articulate that to anyone who is interested enough to ask.
But some people ask when they really don’t want to know.
Without knowing a thing about Montessori, they have already formed a (misguided) opinion – which is then reinforced as they are drawn toward information that reinforces their view, and filter out information that does not.
It’s a theory called cognitive dissonance, but I digress.
In this instance, the person who had asked me which school my children went to was clearly not a Montessori fan.
I kid you not – the second the words were out of my mouth – he made the ‘running around among the trees’ comment (our school is set in a 20 hectare rainforest and farm – and my son is part of a running club at school – so at the time I could see what he was saying). But the funny part wasn’t really what he said.
It was what he did.
He literally backed away.
He didn’t say “I’m just going to refill my drink” or “Oh, Jack has just arrived, I haven’t seen him for ages. Lovely to meet you both.”
No. He backed away. Nervously, with eyes flicking from side to side like he was trying to make an escape.
I think some grace and courtesy instruction wouldn’t have gone astray here, but it didn’t seem like the place or time! 🙂
Then he turned and walked to the other side of the room as fast as his legs would take him.
My husband and I looked at each other and smiled (OK, I may have laughed out loud. But I WAS on my second wine, which is a lot for me).
Thankfully in most of my social circles – and even at work – I’m blessed to interact with open minded people who, even if they haven’t chosen Montessori for their children, are interested enough to chat about it.
But occasionally you come across someone who is so closed-minded. So ‘uniform, traditional school, learning by rote is the only way to go’ in their thinking, that their discomfort with something different is palpable.
In a time of massive changes, business uncertainty, rapid technological advancements and unprecedented growth in entrepreneurism, I wonder how some people will fare going forward.
I was reading an article by futurist Bernard Salt this week which said that employers of the future will be looking for people who are caring and confident and flexible enough to adapt to change. Skills will be a given. It will be the characteristics of the person that will set that individual apart.
Entrepreneurism is set for enormous growth – so those who can think outside the square will flourish. Which is one of the many reasons why Montessori is the perfect avenue to set our children up for the jobs of the future.
People who can find their own talents and their own voice, and forge their own path will be those that achieve success – both professional and personal.
But the misconceptions about Montessori are still huge!
It is challenging as a Montessori parent, as we often feel like an outsider. And it’s something only other Montessori parents understand.
But there’s an upside! I’ve met amazing new friends through our Montessori school and, thanks to this blog, I’ve connected with thousands of other Montessori parents around the world.
Other Montessori parents ‘get’ me and I don’t have to explain my decision to choose a Montessori lifestyle for our family.
I know I share a common bond with many of you – so here’s some things that only other Montessori parents will understand.
9 Things Only Montessori Parents Understand
1. That look on a person’s face when you explain Montessori to someone who is interested. They love it! How often have we heard “Wow, I wish that was around when I went to school.”
2. People who say “Oh, yeah. Our school is like that, too. We’ve got a herb garden on the windowsill. I think most public schools are getting more Montessori these days.”
3. When you smile and answer the question “Isn’t that the place where children can run around and do whatever they want?” for the 1000th time, and stay polite.
4. When you find a fantastic toy on sale and realise it makes a PERFECT Montessori activity.
5. When you find out another wildly successful, billionaire entrepreneur you love went to a Montessori school.
6. That instant bond you feel when you meet another parent for the first time and discover they are a Montessori parent too. Instant besties!
7. When you look forward to your parent-teacher conference because you always learn something about your child that you didn’t know, from someone who knows him almost as well as you do.
8. That look you get from a stranger when your child makes eye contact and initiates conversation. That’s right – our children are different, and in a good way!
9. When other parents complain about the HOURS of homework little Johnny has to do every night, and you just smile and nod sympathetically.
Have a great week!
PS – Be sure to leave a comment below! Do you have any ‘Things that only Montessori parents understand’ to add to the list?
PPS – I’m giving away a free book this week – Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler, one of my favourite Montessori books for parents. All you need to do to be in the draw is be on my email list. You can join up here – it’s 100% free!