In 1896, in the slums of Rome, a young woman was put in charge of a group of children labeled “impossible to educate.” As the first female physician in Italy, she had fought great resistance to get her own education; “no one wanted a female doctor.” Her assignment to care for these children was considered an insult. In a sense, she and the children, ages 3 to 6, were outcasts together.
She recognized that she and the children had something in common: it wasn’t that they couldn’t learn, but that the adults around them wouldn’t let them learn. She studied her children. She paid careful attention to what they were naturally inclined to do. She followed their lead and respected their choices. Before long, she began to unlock their natural gifts.
Her children went on to surpass “normal” students on Italy’s achievement tests. (Yes, standardized tests were around more than a century ago!) WWI & WWII forced her into exile across several different countries, where she continued to observe and test her methods.
That young woman—who had been cast aside in her young professional life—went on to revolutionize education! She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Her methods are still used successfully today, in every socioeconomic setting, on every inhabited continent. Many well-known people are graduates of her methods, including: Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Whales, actors George Clooney and Helen Hunt, famous management consultant Peter Drucker, Princes William and Harry of Wales, and even Helen Keller and Anne Frank.
That woman was Maria Montessori.
Her methods transcend language, culture, and socioeconomic conditions because they are based on the natural progression of human development. I call it “Complete-Human Education” (CHE). Montessori empowered students by teaching according to human development and respecting the natural, human gifts within each student. She provided Structure, yet celebrated the Originality of each student, built on their natural Aptitudes, and made her curriculum Relevant to the “real world.”
The 80/20 on Motivation
Armed with these principles, Montessori created the path for students of all backgrounds and abilities to SOAR! She cracked the not-so-secret code for unlocking student motivation and tapping the individual potential within all students. All education initiatives must embrace these principles, these “80/20 leverage points,” in order to achieve maximum success. They create a culture of authentic diversity; diversity not of superficial distinctions of socioeconomic status, race, or geographic culture, but one celebrating the unique diversity of the human spirit.
SOAR® Soft Skills has been carefully designed to embrace these principles:
✓ Provide Structure. – The curriculum, itself, provides structure for accessing these essential skills.
✓ Celebrate Originality. – The first section of SOAR is an in-depth discovery into the Multiple Intelligences, where students are not only encouraged to dig deep into their unique talents and interests, and even identify their Super Powers.
✓ Build on natural Aptitudes. – There is so much emphasis in traditional education on areas where students struggle. With SOAR, we “clear the slate,” as we celebrate originality. We then encourage students not to “sweat it” if they’ve struggled in school before. The strategies they are about to learn are bare-bones efficient, aligned to the circuitry of the human brain. They will support students through school, enabling them to better develop their natural aptitudes.
✓ Make it Relevant. – All skills and strategies in SOAR are “life” skills. They will not only help students get better grades today, they will help students pay bills on time, complete projects effectively on the job, and get along effectively with people in their lives. They are 100% relevant to the real world!
As a life-long admirer of Maria Montessori (and graduate of her Children’s House for ages 3-6) her principles of education have always been deeply ingrained in my heart and mind; SOAR® has always been dedicated to Complete Human Education.
Will you help your students SOAR? SOAR® Soft Skills (2nd edition to SOAR Study Skills) is literally rolling through the press as I type this. Get more information as soon as we can share it; sign up here.