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Learning Curve: Lexington Montessori says it's about how you play the game

Posted by Lisa Kocian  March 8, 2011 03:27 PM

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Lexington Montessori School plays the Riverbend School from South Natick.

Instead of ''Go! Fight! Win'' they might cheer ''Go! Be Free! Share in Mutual Respect for Each Other’s Athletic Abilities!''

Ok, not quite. But there is something inherently curious about Montessori students playing each other in sports, which would seem to run counter to the independent, freedom-seeking nature of a Montessori education.

But it all somehow works, according to Lois Pond, alumni and public relations coordinator for the Lexington Montessori School, which recently joined the Montessori Athletic Conference, where students can play kids from other Montessori schools in sports like soccer and basketball. Scorekeeping is sometimes optional, she observed.

''The de-emphasis of course is on winning,'' said Pond.

There are 12 local Montessori schools participating in the conference, known as Big MAC, which also organizes flag football and cross-country. Teams are co-ed. And not always from the same school.

After Lexington beat a slightly younger team from Andover School of Montessori in a lopsided game, the schools decided to tweak the whole notion of team.

''The first game was a rout,'' said Pond. ''The second game when they met up again, they recombined teams, they mixed them up and had a great time. It wasn’t so much cheering for one school as it was cheering for whatever might be going on. The idea of heavy, heavy competition is not as important as really the other things that come with participation in a sport -- teamwork, collaboration, cooperation.''

So what would Maria say?

For Maria Montessori, who pioneered the idea of individualized learning that now bears her name, it might have been more about how you play the game than about winning or losing.

''Now, the idea of competition wasn’t important to her but the ideas of cooperation and collaboration were,'' said Pond. ''So into that framework we have inserted team sports.''

Lexington Montessori has about 230 students, from toddlers to 8th graders.

Learning Curve is a new blog about K-12 education in the Your Town communities. Please send ideas about issues, people, and upcoming events involving your school to Lisa Kocian at


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