Our Elephant

Mar 24, 2018

The Making of Our Logo

By Anita Endersby.


Joondalup Montessori has been built on passion and a dedication to provide a little school that families can trust and rely on; so choosing a logo to represent what we believed in had to be honest and from the heart.


the design process

In discussions with our logo designer we established that I liked the idea of having some sort of animal.  I love nature, I love animals and the heart of Montessori philosophy is the connection with nature and our world, so it followed that part of nature would represent us.

The question was “What is the message we want to send?  How do we let people know what is at the core of our belief?”  It had to be something personal.  I wanted Joondalup Montessori to be personal – in our relationships, our interactions and in our branding.


so many choices for a logo?

You would think that with such an abundance of animals to choose from that it would have taken some time to come to a decision….but one in particular stood out for me……the elephant.

About 10 years ago my eldest (and then only) daughter was given a book about elephants from a very dear friend.  In this book was a story about when a family member returns to visit the herd or something special happens the young elephants get so happy they jump around and pee themselves.  I thought this was so adorable and much like a little child that is laughing hysterically and also pees themselves.

I had also seen documentaries where elephants had shown emotions so similar to that of the human and read of long treks to visit the graveyards of lost family.

We have all heard how elephants have long memories and how they are very smart and caring.  They are also very calm, tolerant and compassionate, yet fierce when they need to protect a loved one or themselves.

While what I knew about elephants was very small, one thing I was fairly certain of was that there were many traits they carried that are closely linked to that of us as humans.  I also felt that they had many traits that we have largely lost in our community and could benefit from the teachings of this great animal…….particularly how they look after and protect their young as a family and community.[/vc_column_text]


The importance of the family structure and in particular the bonding of the females shows that learning from wisdom and experience is beneficial for survival in the wild populations studied at Amboseli, [National Park in Kenya]

the science of wisdom

The Washington post published studies that demonstrated the elephant family unit, consisting of a mother and her immature young, sometimes along with sisters, aunts and grandmothers, is the core of elephant society. Within family groups, which range in size from two to more than 20, the oldest, most experienced female takes the lead. But group size is constantly changing, responding to the seasons, the availability of food and water, and the threat from predators. An adult female elephant might start the day feeding with 12 to 15 individuals, be part of a group of 25 by mid-morning, and 100 at midday, then go back to a family of 12 in the afternoon, and finally settle for the night with just her dependent offspring. Known as a fission-fusion society, it is a complex social dynamic relatively rare in the animal kingdom but not uncommon in primates, including humans. [www.washingtonpost.com]

Moving on from the early years of parenting where I tried to control the world, I grew to understand that family and community is very much a team effort and we need to all work together and support each other – not only for the benefit of the child but for the benefit of our own sanity.

Perhaps this is another example of how we are like elephants – particularly as mothers, where we often gain confidence and strength with age.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) calf with herd, endangered species, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Dr Montessori’s observation that children learn and develop through ‘doing’ has been supported in recent studies of early childhood development.  Curriculums’s around the world have begun to try to varying degrees of implementing ways to help nurture the child’s natural curiosity.  Unfortunately when something is only half done due to a lack of looking at the whole picture things don’t always work out as well as expected.

animals and children

It is often said ‘never act with animals or children’……this is because they will upstage the adult at every turn.  How we treat our animals and children says a great deal about our society.  And in the case of an elephant that is in captivity starved for it’s natural tendencies it shows behaviour traits that might be compared with what we see in children that have been starved for their own natural tendencies.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants tells us that  captive elephants are usually living with little normal social contact with their own kind (some elephants are housed alone and have no social contact), and in an environment that deprives them of what they would experience in the wild in terms of sensory input and cognitive processing. They are intelligent beings who would spend the day problem-solving as a means for their survival, but are reduced to standing around for most of the day. In order to compensate for such low-level stimulation, elephants engage in stereotypic, repetitive, compulsive actions like swaying, rocking, pacing, rubbing and other behaviours that are self-stimulating, and are a symptom of ‘boredom’ in most species.

The swaying or ‘weaving’ often used to describe an elephant’s movement seen at zoo’s or circuses is mentioned further in the The Elephant Encyclopedia, where they say adults often explain to their children that this is the elephant’s way of dancing. There are even circus directors who tell their public that elephants have to sway in time with their heartbeat while they doze and that the movement has a calming effect on them.
However, this stereotypical behaviour is not part of an elephant’s natural range of behaviours. In the wild, elephants never have time to develop stereotypical behaviour, since they are totally preoccupied with everyday survival.

our own survival

Our experience has shown us that this too is the case with children……..their natural tendencies are to be productive and do ‘work’ that is aiding their development and preparing them for survival.  When we take this away from them their instinct to learn and work in a group in order to develop as part of our human society is reduced and we have removed their desire and ability to sustain productive activity.  We must remember that humans are animals  – while we have capacities that have evolved extensively our primal instincts and skills required to survive must be met.

The more I learn about elephants the more I am convinced that our logo has been a perfect choice.