Montessori for Life: with Kurt Shelby

COMS Alumnus, Kurt Shelby talks about his transition from Montessori to traditional schooling and his career in music.

After reading about Kurt’s experience transitioning from Montessori, enjoy listening to this recent release from his group Mxmrys and the album Shades of Us which he performs on. Keep an eye out for more to come!

Since leaving Council Oak Montessori School where has life taken you? 

Since leaving COMS, I went on to study music in both high school and college. I went to high school at ChiArts and was a part of the second graduating class. Afterward, I attended U of I in Champaign Urbana. I currently teach at ChiArts, perform regularly, produce albums, and work on my own material .

What does Montessori mean to you?

The Montessori method gave me the tools to teach myself almost any practical skill I needed to know. It also showed me the value in teacher/student relationships and showed me the importance mutual respect for a positive learning experience. In the fields that I work in, showing respect to the people around you and learning new skills regularly is critical. This ability to take initiative without outside guidance has helped me in the creative process.

Talk about your education since COMS.

Transitioning from Montessori style education at COMS to a more traditional style of teaching was pretty jarring for me. Everything was so different from what I was already comfortable with. I wouldn’t say that it was hard in high school, but it was definitely a lot to get used to.

College was a different thing altogether. Lectures, early classes, and learning things that weren’t directly useful to me wasn’t very motivating. That lack of motivation in college required some grit. I had a more difficult time in college, but I was so focused on music and making it through that I was able to persevere.

What would you tell somebody who is thinking about sending their children to Council Oak Montessori?

In my opinion, the Montessori method of teaching is superior to all others because it caters to the child’s individual needs. No other method that I know of does that. Montessori is so far ahead of the rest of the education system that traditional schooling differs greatly from it. Transitioning from Montessori to that style can be a challenge, however Montessori teaches that challenges are essential to growth. It was difficult to learn from lectures and always sit in desks, but I found a way to work around it using skills I learned at COMS. 

During my time at Council Oak Montessori School I learned practical skills which I use to this day without even realizing it. Whether it was research and communication skills, an intuitive understanding of academic concepts, or the grit to persevere,  these skills became integral to who I am.

Council Oak Montessori School