Montessori Alumni Stories - Prize Winners

Anthony Doerr is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of All the Light We Cannot See. He was a Montessori student at Ruffing Montessori School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio for nine years and acknowledges the influence his Montessori education has had on his worldview and his writing.

Of all the skills nine years of Montessori education gave me-- critical thinking skills, social skills, kickball skills -- the most lasting has been a sense of my place in deep geologic time. I could spell Paleozoic before I could spell Coca-Cola…. You’re six or seven years old and you’re being asked to measure the brief, warm, intensely complicated finger snap of your life against the absolutely incomprehensible vastness of time…. The sense of luck that made me feel--to be here at all! --has never left me. It permeates my writing, my attitude toward natural resources, and my relationship with my sons. Looking back, I believe Montessori was one of the strongest influences nudging me toward this kind of curiosity.

In his wonderful book, he writes this passage of a boy listening to the radio during World War II:

The brain is locked in total darkness, children…it floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

In an interview, Tony Doerr says, “As I wrote All the Light, I kept telling myself the old humanist dictum: the path to the universe runs through the individual…The glory and the genius of Anne Frank is the ordinary day-to-day detailing of her writing. Only through the smallest details, through sights and smells and sounds can the writer convey the immensity of human life. “

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. He, too, was a Montessori student. He is quoted in his biography, “I do not believe there is a better method than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.” He says that Montessori created in him “the desire to kiss literature.”