By Tim Seldin,
President of The Montessori Foundation and
Chair of the International Montessori Council
In 1934, Otto and Edith Frank faced the challenge of finding the right school for their precocious daughter Anne when she was old enough to start school at age 3. For them, Montessori was the answer. Their daughter, Anne Frank, became world famous as an author, and even today, The Diary of Anne Frank and her other writings continue to be best sellers.
Anne started attending the 6e Montessori School in Amsterdam in May 1934. Her father, Otto Frank told friends: “Anne was a demanding character. She continually asked questions… When we had visitors, it was difficult to free yourself from her, because everyone and everything interested her… It was good that Anne went to a Montessori School, where each pupil gets a lot of individual attention.”
Anne Frank was a Montessori child, attending the 6th Montessori School of Amsterdam from age 3 to 11, and then a year at the Montessori Lyceum (high school) until the occupying German authorities forbade Jewish children from attending school with Christian children.
Anne was a typical Montessori child. She was bright, eager, and opinionated. She loved to play Monopoly, and often won. She dreamed of becoming an actress or world famous ice skater. And, of course, she was an incredibly articulate writer. Her diary gives us a glimpse not only of those terrible years, but of the bright spark of humanity, compassion, and maturity that are so often seen among our students.
In her diary Anne writes about her classmate, Hannah Goslar, “Hanneli, or Lies as she’s called at school, is a bit on the strange side. She’s usually shy – outspoken at home, but reserved around other people. She blabs whatever you tell her to her mother. But she says what she thinks, and lately I’ve come to appreciate her a great deal.” (Anne Frank, June 15, 1942)
After the war, Hannah reflected on their childhood: “I really was a bit shy. I certainly wasn’t anything like Anne. She was popular, with both the boys and the girls. Being the center of attention was just fine as far as she was concerned. Anne was a smart aleck. My mother used to say, ‘God knows everything, but Anne knows it better.'”