What is Greensboro Montessori School’s Pinwheel?

The Pinwheel

What is Greensboro Montessori School’s Pinwheel?

Greensboro Montessori School's 12-point Pinwheel is an ideal symbol for the educational philosophy of our School. Designed by Jonathan McLean, a current parent and faculty member, the Pinwheel represents many designs in the natural world. It also portrays the power of the triangle and highlights a simple shape—the scalene right-angle triangle—the School uses to introduce geometry for both work and play.

The scalene, right-angle triangle is part of the Constructive Triangles, materials within Montessori’s “Visual Sense” Sensorial works used to demonstrate how all plane geometric figures can be constructed from triangles. Montessori teachers recognize when children are ready for new discoveries, and they guide their students through direct experiences with simple to complex concepts using the help of didactic materials. The Constructive Triangles epitomize this learning process.

Through manipulating triangles, a very young child gains understanding of the triangle as the first form of reality. In the Rectangular Box of Constructive Triangles, the child finds pairs of matching triangles featuring black lines. One of these pairs is green, scalene, right-angle triangles. When the child joins the triangles along the black lines, she discovers how two triangles create one parallelogram. Later, in the Triangular Box of Constructive Triangles, she revisits the green, scalene, right-angle triangles. This time, the two join to form one equilateral triangle.

Parallelogram from the Rectangular Box of Constructive Triangles.

Equilateral Triangle

Equilateral Triangle from the Triangular Box of Constructive Triangles.

With the Constructive Blue Triangles, the same young child uses 12 identical blue, scalene, right-angle triangles to create stars; investigate the ideas of equivalency, congruency and similarity; and build more complex shapes. Directing herself in her work, she organically uncovers the power of learning through the simple and playful exploration of triangles.

Just as the scalene, right-angle triangle is the physical and symbolic representation of a powerful learning process hidden within the Constructive Triangles, the Pinwheel is the physical and symbolic representation of Greensboro Montessori School: a transformative community where professional, passionate educators use children’s individual interests, innate senses of curiosity and inherent thirst for knowledge to unlock in them a lifelong love of learning.