Magazine article Montessori Life

Five Questions

Magazine article Montessori Life

Five Questions

Article excerpt

Anna Marquardt

Teacher, Primary Division

Casady School

Oklahoma City, OK


My undergraduate degree is in Environmental Studies and Botany. I wanted to be an organic farmer, but after working on a few farms and realizing I had no land, no capital, and strongly disliked being outside in the heat, I switched gears. Two questions guided my decision: "How can I do the most good?" and "When am I the happiest?" It was important to me to help fix a planet whose ecological and social systems are fundamentally broken while maintaining a sustainable life. I decided to focus on children, because they have always been a part of my life (as a sibling and as a babysitter), and they make life for me less dire and more joyful.

A mother for whom I worked said something to me about her 2-year-old that was revelatory: "When he wants to splash in puddles, we let him; we follow his lead." I cared for this child for nearly 4 years and witnessed how the parents' respect for their son as an individual resulted in an independent, loving child. About that same time, I picked up Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, by Angeline Stoll Lillard; it lent scientific validation to what I had seen. I enrolled in graduate school in my hometown and earned AMS certification and an MEd, after which I began teaching. My graduate-school adviser, Bee Pape, had been my beloved Montessori kindergarten teacher many years before, which I took as a sign that I was in the right place.


Early twentieth-century American fiction by female authors, especially Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Fisher was instrumental in bringing Montessori's ideas to the United States through her nonfiction books A Montessori Mother (1912), A Montessori Manual (1913), and Mothers and Children (1914). Her novels depicting children being raised in Montessori environments are my favorites. A scene in The Home-Maker(1924) describes a 5-year-old boy using an eggbeater for the first time; it's the perfect illustration of the wonder and discovery that happens in Practical Life. Fisher also wrote about the importance of each individual doing the work for which he or she is best suited, which ties in with Montessori's idea that "what matters is... the will, and the components of the human spirit which construct themselves by work" (The Absorbent Mind, pg. 221). …

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