I was flipping through a catalog for Montessori products last week (have you seen this one? I really love it) and I read that Anne Frank was a Montessori student. For some reason I got so excited and emotional about this odd little fact that I posted it on Facebook (which I then felt kind of dumb about because I forgot that you're not supposed to be overly earnest on FB, and I am so very often overly earnest and I try to keep all that in check) and even started crying a little bit while in the backyard setting up for my giftmaking class. Why the histrionics, you may ask? I dunno. Good question. In my senior year of high school we moved back to Eugene, OR and I almost immediately landed this plum part of Anne Frank at the local community college. It was kind of an extra big deal because there was some sort of Anne Frank exhibit touring the U.S. and hmmm I can't really remember the details, but I actually met Hanne Pick-Goslar, who was in Bergen-Belsen with Anne at the end.
All this just kind of hit me or re-hit me hard last week when I thought of Anne being in a sweet little Montessori school, that such a place could exist only years before the complete and utter insanity descended over Amsterdam. It also made me wonder if this great child-centered Montessori philosophy which I appreciate so much had anything to do with her clarity and thoughtfulness and strong spirit. Actually if I had to wager a guess I'd say that was just her, no school to thank for it. And if she wasn't so herself and so fun and spunky and smart and going through all the normal girl teenage stuff even while locked in an attic with seven other people, she wouldn't have been able to put a face on the events of that dark time. Otherwise it's just another bunch of facts to memorize for history class, not something that really happened, to real people. Or at least there's a chance that some self absorbed teenager will identify with her and not just grudgingly plow through the required reading.
At the time when I was doing this play, I thought a lot about Anne, and I really really wanted to do a good job and to do her justice, but I was distracted. I was the self-absorbed teenager. I had just moved to Eugene, I had real freedom to move about the town for the first time as it was easily walkable and bikable, and I was also completely and totally consumed with my first love. I remember each and every night that we performed that play wishing I would cry in the last scene, but I could never do it. I can cry now for her though, easily. There I go, getting all earnest again. They should call me Earnesta. "I really believe, in spite of everything, that people are good at heart." It's so amazing that she was able to write that. It gives us so much to aspire to. I love you, Anne Frank. You'll always be more than 8th grade required reading to me. Thank you for putting your words on paper, for sharing your story, for giving us so much.