One day, in Olympia, I was sitting in the hotel lobby chatting with family while Miguel played in front of the hotel with his grandfather. When Miguel came back into the hotel, he ran to sit on my lap and I looked down and saw that he was not wearing any shoes. I said, "Oh my god, Miguel! Were you playing outside without your shoes on? Where are your shoes?!" He looked at me innocently and pointed to the front door of the hotel. There, neatly on the entry way mat, sat his shoes. He had taken them off when he entered the hotel. Did he learn that from his compulsive parents or did he learn it from those years in Children's House when he had to take off his shoes and put on slippers to enter his classroom? It is hard to say but it did make me stop and think a bit about Montessori education. Miguel and Zeca go to Lake Country School and, though, I have referred to the school often I have never actually admitted that it is a private school. To be honest, I was embarrassed because, prior to having children, I had always been outspoken in my support of public schools. I would say, "Public school was good enough for me and it will be good enough for my kids" and then I would hike up my pants, grunt and begin to spin tales of walking to school uphill both ways in the snow. When the hypothetical children gave way to the actual children, however, my feelings began to change and I realized that I wanted to send our children to Lake Country. I knew that this choice would involve sacrifices because of the cost but, more than anything, I knew that in choosing private school we would be making a political statement. I knew how our choice would be seen by friends who chose public school and I recognized that opting out of public school does nothing but add to the problems facing the system. I knew that, in effect, we were choosing our children over the greater good. That may seem dramatic but it has been put to me that way, with as much love as possible, by friends who have made different choices. It was not an easy decision but we chose private school - we chose Lake Country. As I drop the kids off at school each morning, I am acutely aware of our privilege. It is a small school, a community of students, teachers and parents working together. It is a place of beauty from the gardens outside to the small porcelain cups on shelves that are waiting to be used by the youngest children. It is a place so inviting that I am reluctant to leave each morning because I could easily sit down and become engaged in the work. It is a gift and, in that, I have found peace with our choice in all of its complexity.
Kare11, a local news station, did a story on the Montessori Movement and filmed much of it at Lake Country School. If you watch the video, you might just recognize someone.