What inspires you about education?
What inspires me about education is that I think we have only barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in the field.
As humanity, we have learned a lot about child development, the nature of our ideas, the formation of our character. But all these discoveries have just barely started making their way into the design of the classroom. The good news is that entrepreneurial efforts like Higher Ground Education are now making it possible to allow educators like me to make tweaks to our programs, to design new courses, to reach out to more students, and to try out some radical ideas.
At present, sometimes these changes click for our students and sometimes they fail as we inadvertently break one thing while trying to fix another. But when they do work, they work spectacularly!
Every day, we see students taking giant leaps that no one else thought were possible. My belief is that if we keep at it, we’ll figure out how to do this well, at scale, consistently and systematically, and the results will be extraordinary—a generation of students who’ll completely reshape our world for the better.
How did you discover Montessori?
I discovered Montessori through an article in a journal on philosophy and culture, which I was reading casually at the time I was in graduate school. It was an article on Montessori math, and it got me hooked!
By the time an opportunity arose for me to seriously consider a career in education, I was inspired and ready. Of course, later in my work, I explored Montessori properly through observing in Montessori classrooms and through reading several of her major works.
How does Montessori philosophy inspire your daily life?
I find the Montessori method itself to be a powerful lesson on the power of observation. One can obviously find the scientific mindset in physical sciences and engineering, but Montessori helped me see this can also be done really effectively in the humanities.
I also find Montessori’s respect for the mind to be refreshing and earnest. America’s Founding Founders, some Enlightenment figures, and some abolitionists also had a respect for the mind, but without Montessori, who’d have realized that such respect hasn’t yet been fully extended to the developing minds of children? And then there is her emphasis on the role of our environments, which made me pay attention to the design of my workspace, my schedule, and my routines and habits in a way I didn’t earlier see as important.
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
“We do not believe that one is disciplined only when he is artificially made as silent as a mute and as motionless as a paralytic. Such a one is not disciplined but annihilated. We claim that an individual is disciplined when he is the master of himself and when he can, as a consequence, control himself when he must follow a rule of life.” (Discovery of the Child, pp. 49, Random House, 1967 edition)
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground Education thus far?
I have learned that there are so many people who share my values. We are by no means just a handful of individuals trying to figure out how children really grow into adults. I have discovered that there is so much talent around, so much great work being done, so much creativity, and so much passion. We are poised to become a real force in the culture.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
The part that I really enjoy about working with my team is how each person on my team is strong in a different area of work. This makes our team meetings really exciting, and almost always I walk away with a new perspective to consider.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
I enjoy playing tennis and chess.