Guidelines For Today’s Montessori League Track Meet

Ian Bardenstein
Published in
3 min readOct 23, 2021


Photo by Evgeniya Litovchenko on Unsplash

Welcome, self-directed athletes! Let’s review a few rules — er, more like loose guidelines — before we kick off today’s track meet at Choose Your Own Adventure Montessori with the However-Many-Yards-You-Want Dash.

1. In keeping with our philosophy of learning at your own pace, you’re welcome to run at your own pace.

2. There’s no need to confine yourself to the track. You can run in any direction of your choosing.

3. The meet is over when everyone crosses the finish line. Gotcha! When it comes to your learning journey, and this track meet, there is no finish line. Let’s draw inspiration from CYOA alum Jessica De Leon, who would have graduated last year but is still technically participating in the 2019 Regionals.

4. The one thing we absolutely won’t tolerate is competition. If you are observed attempting to “win,” then you will lose the privilege of participating until you complete a different activity called “understanding how your actions affect others.”

5. You can run collaboratively with a group, like when Jessica De Leon disappeared into the woods back in 2019 and, as legend has it, joined a deer herd.

6. Even though this is a track meet, running is optional. You are the pilot of your learning journey! Feel free to walk, skip, sashay, roller skate, start a conga line, stop, drop and roll, hitchhike (if your parents signed the permission slip), get abducted by aliens, or enter a catatonic state. I see Kat has already begun her track meet, and is devising a method of somersaulting based on the Fibonacci sequence.

7. We encourage hands-on learning as part of the meet. If you pass a glassblowing studio, hog farm, or steel mill, ask how you can help. Follow your passions, but also follow child labor laws.

8. Please don’t cross state lines. Everyone was stunned when Jessica De Leon reappeared on this very track six months later with the deer herd, having mastered their haunting language and trained them to perform stupendous tricks. However, she should have waited until Nationals to tour North America with the world’s first deer circus.

9. If your caregiver files a missing person report, we’ll dispatch a search-and-rescue team, but as long as you seem intellectually engaged, they’ll leave you alone. In extreme situations that endanger your zest for learning, they may provide some prompts to reignite your curiosity. For example, if you’ve fallen into the city sewers and can’t get out, they might challenge you to map the entire sewer system or keep an urban spelunking journal.

Jasper, you’re the last one here. Don’t wait for the sound of a starting pistol to take ownership of your track meet experience!

Now we’ll welcome to the track all participants in our next event: Do-Whatever-Feels-Right-With-This-Javelin!

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Ian Bardenstein

Humor and nonfiction writer. Work in McSweeney’s, Slackjaw, Points In Case, and more @ibardenstein /