“My snobbery began in third grade, at Pioneer Valley Montessori School. That was when I ceased writing my name as “Mark” in the upper-right corners of my papers and instead began writing “Mark the Great.” I remember precisely why I donned this new epithet: It was because my teacher that year, a young novice named Lisa, hated me.
Lisa practically seethed in my presence. One reason was that I talked back. Not in a rude way, I think, but in an insistent and articulate way. I had a very wide vocabulary for an 8-year-old boy, I loved argument, and I was deeply suspicious of much of the school’s Montessori pedagogy. Time lines, for example: Why were we supposed to learn history by unscrolling a piece of paper, lying on the floor, and using pencils to draw a long line with hash marks representing various dates in, say, American history? I would ask Lisa questions like “Wouldn’t it make more sense to just read a history book?” And Lisa, fresh from her Montessori certification, flush with the convert’s zeal, hated that kind of impudence.”