For those of us familiar with the Montessori Method, it comes as no surprise that many successful and famous people who attended Montessori school praise it as one of the important success factors. Montessori has influenced many people, famous or not, who have grown to become leaders and see the world in a new way. A Montessori education inspires creativity, self confidence, and independent thinking.
Take a look at our curated list of 12 prominent and influential people who attended Montessori school as children…
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. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to Jeff Bezos’s mother, "young Jeff would get so engrossed in his activities as a Montessori preschooler that his teachers would literally have to pick him up out of his chair to go to the next task."
Sergey Brin & Larry Page
Both attended Montessori preschool and both highlight that it was Montessori education that contributed to their independent thinking and success. “You can’t understand Google,” says Wired, “unless you know [its founders] were Montessori kids… In a Montessori school, you paint because you have something to express or you just want to… not because the teacher said so. This is baked into Larry and Sergey… it’s how their brains were programmed early on.”
Sean “P.Diddy” Combs
The multi-talented hip hop artist Sean “P Diddy” Combs 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”.
Renowned as the youngest-ever actor to be nominated for Screen Actors Award, Dakota Fanning has said that she learned to read at the age of two while enrolled in a Montessori school. The educational environment allowed her the freedom to pursue her interests from a young age, such as a love for reading, and fostered the kind of focus that is useful in pursuing an acting career. For Fanning, autonomy led to early achievement throughout her life.
The famous diarist from World War II went to a Montessori school while living in Amsterdam. According to her friend Hanneli Goslar, Anne showed aptitude for reading and writing at an early age., a talent that was nurtured in her Montessori school. She frequently wrote at school, and was outspoken, energetic, and extroverted, telling all, from a young age, that one day she wanted to be a published author.
Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into 67 languages and is one of the best loved books in the world today.
Maria Montessori said that if, deaf and blind, 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.”
In Houston, at St. Mary of the Purification Montessori, Beyoncé’s talents first emerged. In a school that valued both art and academics, a top student and world-class performer was born. Today Beyoncé is one of pop music’s most highly-regarded figures and has been nominated for more Grammys than anyone else in history.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Colombian author of "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" attended a Montessori school for 5 years as a child and credited his time there with making him fall in love with language. 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.
As a child, Alan Rickman attended Derwentwater Primary School in Acton, a school that followed the Montessori method of education. Rickman had a big advantage at the very beginning in going to a Montessori school, because visitors came from all over the world to monitor its progress, and the children would always be presenting themselves in front of an audience. Wendy Dixon, Headmistress of Derwentwater said, “You can always recognize a Montessori-educated adult: they have inquiring minds and a sense of wonder. They’re not just chalked and talked like the rest.”
At 18, Devi Sridhar (a former Montessorian) spoke five languages, played both tennis and the violin expertly, and co-wrote a book on Indian mythology. In 2002 she became the youngest Rhodes Scholar in the program’s 100-year history. Interested in health as a young person, she now directs CEG’s global health governance project.
As a child, Mark Zuckerberg was educated at a Montessori school. These days, Zuckerberg is one of the big-name investors in AltSchool, a whole child learning experience for the next generation. It has been referred to as a type of "Montessori 2.0.” AltSchool borrows certain philosophical influences from Montessori Schools, focusing on project-based learning and relatively unstructured blocks of time in which kids can work on their own lessons with guidance from teachers or collaborate with other students.
A special Montessori connection...
MAHATMA GANDHI - Spiritual Leader
Gandhi’s practice of satyagraha had distinct influence on the development of Dr. Maria Montessori’s perspective on peace education and fostered the start of many Montessori schools for the lower caste systems in India. Gandhi was very interested in the Montessori system of education and he personally taught the children in his Ashrams using a technique similar to the one Dr. Montessori developed. Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi in London in October 1931. On October 28, 1931, at Maria Montessori’s invitation, Gandhi spoke at the Montessori Training College in London. During Montessori’s stay in India (1939 – 1946), she and Gandhi communicated with one another. One of the letters Montessori wrote to Gandhi is on display at his Ashram in Sevagram. Montessori and Gandhi both strongly believed that to have real peace, we must begin with the children.