Drumming with Rick Monaco

Each an every year that Rick comes to Westside to share his spectacular drumming talent with us we are just blown away. The children at Westside are some of the youngest he works with. And his drums are loud! Really loud! This year the excitement in the air started as soon as the children walked into the School. And it didn’t stop until long after Rick was gone.
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You can also find some more photos on our twitter feed - @insidewestside

April 19, 2012. Classroom life. No Comments.

Montessori - Preparation for the future - It is an investment


Montessori seems to be coming up more and more often in the press, whether it be education reform, neurological research, executive function, or how companies function and run. Is it a coincidence that Google, founded by Montessori graduates has been Here at Google part of Fortune Magazine’s prestigious “100 Best Companies to Work For” for four consecutive years? And of those 4 years they have achieved a Top 5 ranking. In 2012 it was #1. In fact, they have taken the number 1 spot 3 times, which is more than any other company. Google says that ‘innovative benefits, flexibility, and the opportunity to pursue big ideas are just a few of the attributes that have continued to earn [them] this exciting recognition’. “People want to feel part of a family, even when they’re at work,” Google CEO Larry Page said.
SAS Institute in Cary, NC – last year’s top company – impressed Fortune researchers with its subsidized Montessori childcare as one of the perks.
Montessori, Montessori, Montessori. There just seems to be a link. Coincidence? Maybe. But we don’t think so.

The following is from Tony Evans - Head of School at Dundas Valley Montessori School in Dundas, Ontario.

‘Society has not only developed into a state of utmost complication and extreme contrasts, but it has now come to a crisis in which the peace of the world and civilization itself are threatened. More than to anything else it is due to the fact that the development of man himself has not kept pace with that of his external environment.’ -Dr. Maria Montessori, 1948, Childhood to Adolescence

Whenever I read Montessori’s later writings, I am literally astounded by how prescient she was about the evolution of education, technology, brain research, and the modern world. Last week, there were two inspiring articles in the Globe & Mail extolling the ability of Montessori Education to develop innovative minds.

Article 1: “Maria Montessori: Guru for a New Generation of Business Innovators.”
(View related artcile)

Article 2: “Rethinking Cubicle Culture.”
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Please read the articles and forward them to anyone who asks why you are committed to a different model of education for your child. The model we are accustomed to was designed for children of the past (think industrial revolution). Montessori is designed for the leaders of tomorrow.

In the accompanying articles we examine how businesses are using Montessori principles to employ and engage employees with astounding success.

The Work World

An interesting perspective is offered by Ambiga Dhiraj, Head of Talent Management for Chicago-based Mu Sigma, a decision science and analytics services firm, in her blog post “Develop Leaders the Montessori Way” (View related artcile) at Harvard Business Review. She outlines how her company shifted to a Montessori approach to motivating employees.
“We believe this intrinsic motivation - an employee’s love for what she does - is better than money and promotions,” writes Dhiraj.

John Steen, member of the Technology & Innovation Management Centre in the School of Business at the University of Queensland, Australia, and founder of The Innovation Leadership Network blog, also sees the advantages of bringing Montessori approaches to the work world. In “Montessori Lessons for Innovators,” (View related artcile) Steen argues that bringing Montessori-principled prepared environments into the workplace is the best way to advance innovation.

The environment “is structured but the structure supports experimentation and learning rather than dictating what will be learnt and what the experiment will be,” says Steen.

Then there’s “the move to incorporate more co-op experiences into graduate school programs.”
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From the article:
“At a basic level, it is a Montessori approach. What works well for kindergartners works well for engineers,” says Bryan Dansberry, who chairs the American Society for Engineering Education’s Co-operative & Experiential Education Division (CEED) and is a higher education experiential programs specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.”

Montessori can contribute to lifelong success in ways that might not be initially obvious. Here we have examples of how Montessori not only contributes to children’s development, but how it can also contribute to aspects of grown-up development as well.

The Brain
When it comes to the internal skills that lead to success, Dr. Judy Willis has written an article much-discussed by Montessorians recently. In Whose Children Will Get the Best Jobs in the 21st Century, (
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Dr. Willis postulates that “The best jobs will go to applicants who have the skillsets to analyze information as it becomes available, the flexibility to adapt when what were believed to be facts are revised, and to collaborate with other experts on a global playing field requiring tolerance, willingness to consider alternative perspectives, and articulately communicate one’s ideas successfully.” These skills are part of the set of skills neurologists refer to as executive functions.

Willis relates the development of sound executive function skillsets to educational models and says, “What is important is that today’s students have the education they need to choose the career path that will give them the most satisfaction.” She explains that “children who have opportunities to use and strengthen their developing executive functions early” will have a greater likelihood of success in future educational and vocational endeavours.

She outlines the kinds of skills children should learn in school - focusing attention, organization, prioritization, and active participation - and gives some examples of things parents can do to foster executive function abilities, such as having children make plans or set goals and experience the consequences of their choices in accomplishing (or not) the plans they have made, and how parents should respond when seeing them make poor choices.

All of this is exactly what Montessori does. Many business professionals are just now beginning to recognize the advantages of Montessori as providing both valuable employee skills and as a model upon which corporate structures and practices can be based. Choosing Montessori for your child, and learning more about how it can help your own business, has never been a better choice.

And, we agree, she was Superwoman! What do you think?
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April 19, 2012. Uncategorized, Articles. No Comments.