News from the North House News & Reflections from the Middle School

In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “How do Innovators Think?,” author Bronwyn Fryer offered the following observation:

“We also believe that the most innovative entrepreneurs were very lucky to have been raised in an atmosphere where inquisitiveness was encouraged. We were struck by the stories they told about being sustained by people who cared about experimentation and exploration. Sometimes these people were relatives, but sometimes they were neighbors, teachers or other influential adults. A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity. To paraphrase the famous Apple ad campaign, innovators not only learned early on to think different, they act different (and even talk different).”

Thinking, acting, and talking differently. These characteristics signal an individual that has no qualms about straying from cultural or group norms--not because they desire to rebel, but because they have a well-developed sense of personal dignity. This individual thinks, acts, and speaks differently because if they did not, they would be betraying their true self, and they have full awareness that their true self is valued and worthy of respect. They are unafraid to follow their curiosity and to explore unconventional new ideas. Why would they be?

In correlation with their current studies in anatomy, students read excerpts from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. They are now working on dramatic interpretations of those readings, using either prose poetry or "duo interpretation," both of which are categories of the National Forensics League's speech & debate events.

Developing this sense of personal dignity, self-awareness, and individuality is of key importance during adolescence. This is the time when the personality of the child is quickly replaced (in just a few years’ time!) by the adult personality. In these years, they need opportunities to express and explore different aspects of their developing personalities. They need increased freedom in which they can develop the ability to make good decisions. At the same time, they need greater responsibilities and higher expectations so that the best in them will rise to the occasion. They need and crave experiences that will valorize the best in who they are becoming.

[ABOVE] Measuring proportions in their current Science studies of anatomy; [LOWER LEFT] Tomato soup and grilled cheese were on the menu for this week's community lunch. We welcomed Gilmour Academy's admissions director Beth Lazzaro and the Eglestons as our guests. [LOWER RIGHT] Important preparations for our holiday sale continue.
“This is the time (adolescence), ‘the sensitive period,’ when they should develop the most noble characteristics that would prepare them to be social, that is to say, a sense of justice and a sense of personal dignity.” --Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence
Two exchange students from Guatemala visited the Middle School Spanish class this week. The students, Raul and Maria, attend Western Reserve Academy. They gave a presentation about Guatemala and made a cultural craft with HMS students.

A Montessori education provides a unique environment and experiences in which this kind of development can naturally occur. And just like the “innovative entrepreneurs” of Fryer’s article, as organizations, Montessori schools think differently, act differently, and even speak differently about learning … about growth … about community … about society. We are willing to provide experiences that can’t be tested and reduced to percentages. We are unafraid to allow young people to follow their curiosity and to explore new ideas. Why would we be?

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