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Monday, 26 Feb, 2024

Meet Neil Diskin-Holdaway, an inspiring educator at Melbourne Montessori College, where he teaches Humanities, Business Management, and Theory of Knowledge. Since 2023, Neil has brought his passion for Montessori principles to the classroom, cherishing the school’s collaborative environment and innovative teaching methods. Read on for the full interview…


Full Name: Neil Diskin-Holdaway

Position: Teacher of Humanities, Business Management and Theory of Knowledge.

How long have you been at MMC?

Since the start of 2023.

Where were you beforehand?

The Kilmore International School.

What do you love about working at MMC?

I think it’s great how much of the school is run bottom-up, rather than top-down. Whether there is a community meeting or staff meeting, we sit in a circle and everyone listens to each other.

What inspires you as a Montessori educator/team member?

I am fortunate to work with many experienced Montessori educators who can point to a variety of ways in which Montessori principles guide their practice. Staff don’t just tell us about it – we are constantly showing each other ways to increase engagement and joy.

What is your most memorable teaching moment or moment working in a school?

That’s a difficult question, but it has to be saying ‘goodbye’ to Year 12s whom you have watched grow up. Year 12 comes to an end and their lives will never be the same again because there are no more lessons from me, and no more of my antics that they need to tolerate! Knowing that you made their school journey a little more fun and stimulating is what I love about teaching.

What’s your most memorable moment as a school student?

I loved to perform in school productions and talent shows, but the highlight has to be playing soccer during recess. We would have teams set for a term and would track the aggregate score. As soon as three people arrived on each team, the match began. There were times when we had to play extra-time and the golden goal because we were tied on the final day.

What are five interesting things about you we may not know? 

  1. At home, I speak only in French with my young daughter. I take lessons and hope to have better French than her for as long as possible.
  2. I spend way too much time trying to get better at chess. Challenge me to a game; I will show no mercy.
  3. You can find me drinking and talking about my hipster coffee.
  4. Most things that I watch or listen to must be played at x2 speed.
  5. I met my wife playing in a community orchestra that plays Balinese gamelan music eg gongs, xylophones, pots, drums, flutes etc.

What does your weekend look like?

Spending time at a variety of Melbourne playgrounds, zoos, museums and art galleries with my family.

What is your favourite Maria Montessori Quote, and why?

“The teacher must derive not only the capacity but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe.”

This quote resonates so much with me. From the moment we are at school, teachers observe and find out what drives each individual student. It’s a process and the work is never done. Stay curious.

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