The following is the text of a brief closing address that I shared at Compass Montessori School's thirteenth High School Graduation on May 25, 2017:
"One of the many beauties of a Montessori education is the time afforded our students to truly know. Rushing from one topic to the next is patently avoided. As such, the space for profound understanding is fostered. Our students stay with a work because they feel its significance. They form an intimate connection; that relationship resonates within them. This relationship is love.
"This way of knowing comes from being genuinely part of what you are trying to understand. Through slowing down and learning to take their time, looking at the familiar from different perspectives, our students deeply explore the questions and concepts before them. They are engaged with their studies, working with purpose.
"At Compass, we believe that our students are spirit-filled beings yearning to be believed in, that education is about freeing children to explore a learning environment prepared with intention, where they can partner with teachers to set goals for their learning, and “where trained adults relate to them in a guiding, helpful, positive way around the love of learning” (Schaefer, n.d.). In this relationship, students develop a powerful personal understanding, and build meaningful connections with one’s community, and the world.
"Our students are curious, self-confident, eager and energetic. They are partners in directing their learning, engaging with curricula that are novel and meaningful and relevant – all with the support of compassionate and knowledgeable educators.
"Dr. Maria Montessori wrote the following call to action: "If education is always to be conceived [as] a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of [our] future... The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities" (Montessori, 1949).
"We are all part of the Montessori movement because we want something different for our children - something beyond a model of education that values dissemination of knowledge over understanding, that confuses sameness with strength, and one that measures achievement only through solitary gains on external assessments.
"At Compass Montessori School, we aim to do more; indeed, change the system – re-frame and re-create the world as we want it to be. Dr. Montessori saw education as “the bright new hope for mankind” (Montessori, 1949). Join us in our continual endeavor to empower our students to seek out knowledge, to ask questions, to challenge themselves, to love living – in short, to see before them an unobstructed horizon with nothing but possibility ahead.
"Thank you all for gathering here to honor these amazing young adults. We are so proud of each and every one. Our students are the heirs of Dr. Montessori’s vision, the recipients and beneficiaries of her legacy. They are the answer our world needs.
"And now, I have, the very special honor of introducing the graduated Class of 2017!"
1. Montessori, M. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
2. Schaefer, L. (n.d.). Authentic Montessori. MediaSite Recording. St. Paul, MN: St. Catherine University
Portions of this address were previously published in “Why Montessori Matters” (Seth D. Webb, 2011) at Finding Our Center - Reaching Out: http://radicalmontessori.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-montessori-matters.html
Image Source: Compass Montessori School's Pink Unicorns Cross Country Team