In September 1998, Google, a small company with big prospects set out to take the world by storm. In December, "PC Magazine" named the project as the search engine of choice in the Top 100 Websites of the year. Thus, one of today's largest and most successful companies was born.
Larry Page, one of two geniuses behind the original idea met his co-founder, Sergey Brin at Stanford in 1995. Both of their fathers were university professors – Page's father with a degree in computer science, but when asked by Barbara Walters on an ABC news special in 2004 if this had driven them to success, both credited nursery school instead! This may not be so surprising after learning that both Page and Brin attended Montessori school as children. "We both went to Montessori school," said Page "And I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated and questioning what's going on in the world that made us a little bit different."
“Both Sergey and I went to a Montessori school, and I think, for some reason, this has been incorporated... at Google”
Indeed, skills of self-motivation, creativity and collaboration are all encouraged in a Montessori environment – and its not uncommon to find successful people that have origins in Montessori school. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, for example, also attended Montessori.
But the educational values didn't just impact Google's founders personally. Many of the so-called "perks" of working at the company relate to the strategies used in a Montessori classroom.
In his TED Talk, Page commented on how Montessori education affected both his and Sergey Brin's upbringing, their creation of the Google culture and some important developments by the company.
"Both Sergey and I went to a Montessori school, and I think, for some reason, this has been incorporated...at Google. We've embodied this as 'the 20 percent time,' and the idea is, for 20 percent of your time-if you're working at Google-you can do what you think is the best thing to do. And many, many things at Google have come out of that, such as Orkut and also Google News."
Since abolished in place of more effective methods of self-directed innovation, 20 percent time was Google's most famous "perk". However, it was just the tip of the iceberg. Montessori ideas are laced throughout the notoriously inventive company.
The Montessori philosophy is based on both collaboration and self-directed learning, often play-based in the early years. Classrooms with multiple age groups are also common, in order to have students teach students. Google employees, known for their creativity and drive, enjoy many of these motivations as well.
The Google Jobs website advertises regular collaboration efforts, where employees have the opportunity to teach classes and work together in educating other employees. Essentially, this is the Montessori concept of experienced teaching inexperienced applied to a larger scale – and it works.
Other "perks" include game rooms and sports facilities available to staff on breaks. Keeping an active lifestyle and an active brain through play and sports is also a valuable educational concept that Page has applied to the workplace. Now the CEO, Page and hiring executives look for a trait they call "googliness" in potential employees. A "googly" person is a self-driven entrepreneur. Now dubbed intrapreneurs, for their contributions inside the company, "googly" people have many qualities cultivated in a Montessori environment – qualities that will thrive in Google's Montessori-based workplace!
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