In this Spotlight, we were fortunate enough to chat with Lori Bourne, from Montessori for Everyone. Starting out as a teacher, designing and creating her own materials for the classroom, she soon identified a need to offer these services to a wider audience. Hence, the birth of Montessori for Everyone! Lori is "certified in Montessori Elementary", and lives in the "Chicagolandarea", where she homeschools her son and daughter. We hope you enjoying getting to know Lori.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
A: My name is Lori Bourne and I have a degree in History from Indiana University. While going through college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. After graduating, I got a job as an assistant at a Montessori school and immediately knew I wanted to be a Montessori teacher.
My interests are very much in line with my business - I love to read and learn about homeschooling, education, and parenting. I also enjoy leading a women's Bible study and helping out at my church in the children and middle school ministries.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What's your favorite color?
A: I love all shades of green, but celadon is probably my favorite
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
A: I have two favorite books: East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I don't have a very favorite movie but all of my favorite movies are comedies, like This is Spinal Tap, Fletch, and Monty Python: Search for the Holy Grail.
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
A: I would love to travel around the world with my family. I traveled a lot as a child and it instilled in me a love of new places and a love of adventure.
Q: Can you tell us about your hobbies?
A: My hobbies include music (I sing and play the piano) and reading (I've read thousands of books), and I have to admit that I love online life - from blogs to Twitter and Facebook to small businesses like mine, I spend a lot of time online reading, chatting, and shopping.
Q: Switching to Montessori, what advice do you have for new Montessori schools?
A: New Montessori schools need to be run by someone who is Montessori certified. Yes, that person needs to have business and fundraising skills, but if they don't truly understand Montessori, they will not be able to lead the school in the right direction.
If you are going to call yourself "Montessori", you need to do and be just that. Don't call yourself a Montessori school and then bring in plastic toys (in the younger ages) and give out lots of homework (in the older grades), for example. Parents who come to your school for the "Montessori" of it and find something else will end up being disappointed - you are only hurting yourself in the end.
Yes, running a true Montessori school is both hard and expensive, but it can be done.
Q: With that in mind, we suppose the same question can be applied to established Montessori schools.
A: For an established Montessori school, make sure the teachers you hire are not only Montessori certified but that they share your vision for a true Montessori school. The teachers will end up shaping most of what the children learn and have the most contact with the parents, so it's very important to hire great teachers.
Q: How have things changed since you first got started in the field of education?
A: In regards to traditional education, there is more pressure than ever before on the schools and teachers for children to "achieve" and to be able to measure that achievement in testable ways. It's a true tragedy for both the children and the teachers. There is little to no emphasis on creativity, learning for learning's sake, and cultivating the curiosity that all children are born with.
In response to this, there are more Montessori schools (and other alternative schools) and more homeschoolers than ever before. It's great that people have options, but sad to see the two sides move further away from each other rather than closer.
Q: Did you have a "Montessori Moment?"
A: I absolutely did. I was working as an assistant in a Montessori 3-6 classroom, and I remember one day, early on, watching the children work and being hit with this feeling that this was what education should be like. The specific day I remember, one child was scrubbing a table and another was using an egg beater in a bowl to make bubbles. It was amazing to watch them work on their own.
Q: What's your favorite Montessori quote?
A: "A child's work is to create the person he will become."
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
People who are interested in Montessori should read Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing and arrange to observe at a quality Montessori school.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
A: I am inspired by the fact that the Montessori method is still so relevant, maybe even now more than ever. Current brain research tells us that the Montessori method of hands-on, self-directed learning is the best way to learn. Maria knew that by observing, and now we can prove that by looking at the brain. Amazing!
Q: How do you feel Montessori for Everyone has impacted the community, locally and globally?
A: I've provided the Montessori community with beautiful, high-quality materials at very reasonable prices, and have given many people information they can use through my blog. I also feel that my Facebook page (14,128 fans and growing every day) is a place where the Montessori community can gather to share experiences and ask questions. I truly hope that I've helped make Montessori for everyone!
Q: What kind of legacy would you hope Montessori for Everyone will impart to students?
A: One emphasis of my work has been to update materials, not just with modern pictures but to correct outdated information as well. Dr. Montessori would not want us using out-of-date materials just because they are traditional. I hope that children today - as they start to become adults who shape society - are willing to make changes to accepted practices when science provides new information.
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
A: I hope that there is radical reform in the United States and around the world, towards student-driven education with an emphasis on critical thinking, curiosity, and real-life experiences over teacher-led classrooms with stiflingly narrow curriculums. I can dream, can't I? ;)