Do you want to know the secret to motivating students? By working with children labeled “impossible to educate,” Montessori found the key to teaching all children. It wasn’t the students’ disabilities that held them back – it was the flawed way people had tried to teach them.
The 20% of Strategies that Unlock 80% of Success
You’ve probably noticed that you can spend most of your time and energy in ways that get disappointing results. But then, when you find the right strategy, your results grow explosively! In any pursuit, about 80% of the work produces only 20% of results. That last 20% of work produces 80% of results! (It just so happens that this phenomenon was discovered by another Italian, Vilfredo Pareto, in 1906 – the same year that Maria Montessori was invited to run her own school for low-income children.) Today we call this principle the 80/20 Rule or the Pareto Principle.
Unlike most educators at the time, Montessori realized that children have a natural desire to learn. Montessori refined her educational philosophy to zero in on the strategies that got real results! Her job was not to make them learn, but to let them learn. The philosophy she discovered has gone by many names, but I like to call it “Complete-Human Education.”
Montessori unlocked her students’ gifts by paying attention to how they were naturally inclined to learn. The students at Montessori’s schools never lost their internal motivation. Before long, her disadvantaged students were passing the same exams as “normal” students.
Montessori’s methods work across the spectrum of cultures, economic conditions, and natural advantages. They focus on the “80/20 leverage points” that allow students to reach their full potential.
By the end of her life, Maria Montessori was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three times. Today, schools follow her methods on every inhabited continent. Many well-known and successful people have graduated from her schools, including the founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), and Wikipedia (Jimmy Whales), Nobel-Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, video game designer Will Wright, and the actors George Clooney, Helen Hunt, and Alan Rickman.
Montessori’s Keys to Learning
The Montessori Method focuses on three key elements for teaching students at every level:
- Celebrating the student: We need to let students follow their own passions and discover their own abilities. Children want to learn and improve. Schools should strengthen this desire, not fight it!
- Structure: At the same time, students need a structured learning environment in order to explore their own potential. Structure lets students spend their time learning what they need to learn, instead of spending their energy adapting to a constantly changing environment.
- Real-life relevance: Students have never had patience for “useless” lessons. Montessori let students learn basic concepts by performing real-world tasks. Her students never had to ask, “How am I going to use this?”
Teaching Students to SOAR!
I have always admired Maria Montessori – I even had my start as a student in one of her schools. Montessori’s educational principles were a guiding light to me in my own journey into study skills and strategic learning. In fact, that journey began when ADHD and dyslexia forced me to focus on the most effective learning strategies I could find.
I built the SOAR® Strategic Learning Skills program on the same principles that made Montessori’s schools a success. They allowed me to help students in thousands of schools learn how to learn!
- Celebrating the student: SOAR starts with an explanation of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Instead of letting struggling students think they aren’t smart, it asks them “How are you smart?” Students develop motivation by finding and pursuing their own natural talents.
- Structure: The SOAR study skills curriculum provides the structure students need. It shows them the most efficient strategies that they can use across every subject. (This means no time wasted learning math strategies that don’t help in social studies, or vice versa.) It’s a road map for students to use on their expeditions into learning!
- Relevance: The strategic learning skills SOAR teaches are “life skills” that will help them throughout their adult life. Successful adults never stop learning, making mental connections, and managing their time. These are the fundamental tasks that SOAR makes simple.
Read more about the Secret to Motivating Students
Get more information about SOAR Strategic Learning Skills here.