Famous Montessorians

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” – Will Durant


Montessori…. the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so over-represented by the schools alumni that one might begin to suspect a Montessori mafia.
Perhaps it s just a coincidence that Montessori alumni lead two of the world s most innovative companies. Or perhaps the Montessori Mafia can provide lessons for us all even though it s too late for most of us to attend Montessori.
We can change the way we ve been trained to think. That begins in small, achievable ways, with increased experimentation and inquisitiveness. Those who work with Mr. Bezos, for example, find his ability to ask why not? or what if? as much as why? to be one of his most advantageous qualities. Questions are the new answers.

Wall Street Journal, April 2011

JOSHUA BELL Grammy award-winning violinist and subject of a Pulitzer prize-winning media story

As a world-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell is thoughtful about the role his music plays in society. In a cultural experiment turned Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post story, it is Bell’s humility, not his virtuosity, that most inspires. In suspending his fame to explore the true meaning of his work, Bell exhibits Montessori thinking at its best.

JEFF BEZOS Amazon founder

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.

DAVID BLAINE Illusionist & magician

As a four-year old Montessori student, David Blaine 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.

T BERRY BRAZELTON Pediatrician, child psychiatrist, author and Harvard medical school professor emeritus

Dr. Brazelton’s positive, child-oriented philosophy of parenting has influenced countless families to raise children who are confident, caring, and hungry to learn. Brazelton attended a Montessori school as a child and now supports Montessori philosophy through his lectures and publications.

JULIA CHILD Celebrity chef and author.

The movie Julie and Julia brings us a fresh awareness of the life of the famous chef, Julia Child. Julia Child was sent to a local Montessori school in Pasadena aged 4 run by May and Augusta Davies who had studied with Maria Montessori. In her book, Julia Child & Company, she credits her Montessori experience with her love of working with her hands. Julia child exemplifies creativity, initiative and self-confidence.

GEORGE CLOONEY   Academy award-winning actor, director, producer, humanitarian, United Nations messenger of peace.

Attended a Montessori pre-school in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

SEAN P Diddy COMBS is a Grammy award-winning musician, rap recording artist and CEO of Bad Boy Records.

This multi-talented hip hop artist 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”.

JOHN CUSACK Actor and screenwriter.

John is not a conventional hero. This former Montessorian describes his work as idiosyncratic, offbeat and fiercely original is consistent with his belief in a kind of Joseph Campbell theory of pursuing bliss. Whatever excites you is what you should be doing.

ERIK ERIKSON (1902 1994) Psychologist & Author

The Danish-German-American psychologist and psychoanalyst is best known for his theory on human social development. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. He found Montessori ideas so compelling that he studied them as an adult, acquiring a Montessori teaching certificate but never taught in a classroom.

DAKOTA FANNING Actress

This youngest-ever Screen Actors Award nominee and the youngest Academy member, recalls: “I learned to read at two..in a Montessori school where they teach you to read really, really young. Montessori kids” are not technically taught to read but they work at their own pace in age-diverse groups – not in curriculum-dictated lockstep with same-age peers. For Fanning, autonomy led to early achievement throughout her life.

ANNE FRANK (1929 1945) Memoirist & author

Anne Frank is remembered around the world for her diary Het Achterhuis which speaks about her adolescence in German occupied Amsterdam in World War Two. The diary describes the impact of Nazi anti-Semitism on Jewish and Dutch communities. Anne was born to an upper class Jewish family in Frankfurt before moving to Amsterdam. Her family selected a small Montessori School for Anne to attend where she was remembered as an ordinary student but with the ability to draw more from her experiences than the average student – a typical Montessorian characteristic.

FRIEDENSREICH HUNDERTWASSER – Viennese artist & architect

This world-renowned Austrian painter and architect attended a Montessori school in Vienna, which influenced both his affinity for vibrant colours 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.

HELEN HUNT – Academy award-winning actor

Helen Hunt, winner of an Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe all in one year a feat rarely matched in theatre history is one cool Montessorian. Which makes her observation all the more interesting: “If there’s a message, it’s that the unlovable and unattractive parts of ourselves should be embraced. The only real currency between people is what happens when they’re not cool”.

HELEN KELLER (1880 1968) Political activist, author, lecturer, awarded the presidential medal of freedom, one of Gallup s most widely admired people of the 20th century

Maria Montessori said that 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.

BEYONCE KNOWLES Singer, songwriter, actress and fashion designer,16-time Grammy award-winner

In Houston, at St. Mary of the Purification Montessori, Beyonce’s talents first emerged. In a school that values the Arts and academics, a top student and world-class performer was born. Today Beyonce has been nominated for more Grammys than anyone in history.

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 early on 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.

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (1927 – 2014) Nobel prize-winning author

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. His book, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ has been named as the book that has most shaped world literature of the last 25 years.

HM QUEEN NOOR of JORDAN U.N. Advisor, humanitarian activist, memoirist and wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan

Queen Noor is an international public servant and an outspoken voice on issues of world peace and justice. Her orientation toward peace directly reflects Maria Montessori’s – herself a three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee whose education for peace philosophy underpins our approach.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS (1929 1994) Former First Lady and book 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.

SERGEY BRIN & LARRY PAGE Google Co-Founders

Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been friends since childhood but when asked if it was the fact that their parents were both college professors being the reason for their success they said that it was their going to a Montessori school where they learned to be self-directed and self- starters. They said that Montessori education allowed them to learn to think for themselves and gave them freedom to pursue their own interests.

TAYLOR SWIFT   Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter

Taylor Swift, country music’s youngest-ever Entertainer of the Year, attended Alvernia Montessori School in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The singer is widely described as the product of home grown values; New York Times calls her one of pop’s finest songwriters, country music’s foremost pragmatist, and more in touch with her inner life than most adults. She recently donated $25,000 to her old school.

President WOODROW WILSON

Woodrow Wilson, President of The United States of America had a Montessori classroom installed in the basement of the Whitehouse during his term of office for staff to send their children to and his daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. Margaret Wilson was on the committee that brought Dr Montessori to the USA in 1915.

WILL WRIGHT Video game pioneer, creator of the Sims

The videogame innovator says Montessori was the imagination amplifier that prepared him for creating The Sims, Sim City, Spore and Super Mario Brothers. SimCity comes right out of Montessori. It’s all about learning on your own terms.