Fighting about Finger Painting

It was an innocent enough call. “Are you thinking about Montessori?” a woman asked my friend at the playground. “Because we just got back from an open house and I was blown away. It might be perfect for Stella.” Stella is my friend’s two-year-old.

My friend wasn’t thinking about Montessori. She and her husband liked progressive schools. They seemed a better fit for Stella. But the woman at the playground got her thinking. Maybe she knew something they didn’t. Maybe they should have looked at more schools. Maybe they should have read Maria Montessori’s autobiography, forked over $450 for a tutor to teach Stella to pour milk into a thimble and tie her shoes blindfolded. She called some friends. What did they think? Had they visited any Montessori schools? Were they applying?

Listening to others, and following them for no reason other than the misguided sense that Other People Know Something You Do Not, is silly. And dangerous. Economists call it herd behavior and it’s the reason the stock market acts like a crack addict, shooting up until it face plants (think Internet stocks circa 1999, housing stocks until 2007). Herd behavior causes booms in the economy, which then cause busts. And those are bad (look around).

Which is what I reminded my friend, invoking the book I actually wrote. I reminded her that Stella is a free spirit. She likes to run naked laps around the house singing “All the Single Ladies.” Not so Montessori, IMHO. So she’s sticking to her original plan: the high-priced preschool with a nicer campus than her college and acceptance rates that make getting into Harvard look easy peasy. She’s still in a herd. But it’s the right one for her.

Photo credit: abbybatchelder at flickr

Posted in arguing, booms and busts

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