Montessori Alumni Stories - Anne Frank

Anthony Doerr, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and Montessori alumni, stated that the glory and the genius of Anne Frank was the day-to-day ordinariness of her writing. Her diary is moving and heartbreaking as she details the life she is living in her hiding place with her family and a few other people. Her attention to detail, her observations, her honesty… all are hallmarks of the Montessori education Anne Frank enjoyed until she was forced into hiding.

In her diary, Anne tells readers that she began her schooling in a Montessori nursery in Amsterdam. In her words: “I started right away at the Montessori nursery school. I stayed there until I was six, at which time I started 1st grade (Montessori elementary)… My parents never worry about report cards, good or bad. As long as I am healthy and happy and don’t talk back too much, they’re satisfied. (But) I don’t want to be a bad student. …. I was supposed to stay in the seventh grade at the Montessori School, but Jewish children were required to go to Jewish schools…..” and then Anne must go into hiding and continue her brief life and education on her own and with her family. But as Anne says, “Parents can only give good advice or put them (children) on the right track, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

Otto Frank (“…the most adorable father I have ever seen…”) stated that his daughter was a curious and questioning child and that Montessori was the right place for her; a father determining the best school for his child. We are fortunate and grateful to have this diary as a reminder of the humanity and the human relationships that we hope our children will be able to appreciate and preserve. She tells her diary, “It is a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

This geometric design was created by Anne Frank and is on display at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It will look familiar, if more detailed and sophisticated due to her age, to all parents of a Montessori child. Montessori wrote, and I think Anne Frank proves: “To confer the gift of drawing we must create an eye that sees, a hand that obeys, a soul that feels, and in this task the whole life must cooperate. In this sense, life itself is the only preparation for drawing. Once we have lived the inner spark of vision does the rest.”

From the photo collection of the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

From the photo collection of the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam