Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MONTESSORI | Key to Innovative Passion?

Tony Wagner
On May 3 Harvard celebrated its 375th anniversary in New York with a focus on Harvard's "tradition of innovation". I wrote about it on HuffPost and more recently on my CityEconomist blog. One of the things Harvard has done is to create a Technology and Entrepreneurship Center, which sounds a lot like the NYC Cornell-Technion center that will be created on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

The first Innovation Education Fellow at the T&E Center is Tony Wagner, who has written a four-star (on Amazon) new book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the WorldKnowledge@Wharton interviewed him about his book. They asked: "How can parents, mentors and others help young people to develop creativity and the skills of innovation as they age?"
Wagner: ... [E]ncourage more exploratory play. So many parents are programming their kids' days and weeks, are worrying about their kids resumes in kindergarten or even earlier. What they need to understand, first and foremost, is that passion derives from more exploratory play. I don't know whether you picked this up in the book, but I uncovered research to the effect that many of the most successful entrepreneurs and innovators today were, in fact, products of Montessori schools, where it is much more of a play-based form of learning. I think the second thing that parents need to understand is they cannot and they should not try to protect their children. Too many parents are helicopter parents who are trying to hover. They are trying to tell their children how wonderful they are, which I think is a huge mistake. You really have to allow kids to experiment and to make mistakes because that is how they are going to gain self-confidence. They don't gain real self-confidence from having been protected and living in a cocoon all their childhood.
My mother (Hilda van Stockum Marlin) and grandmother (Olga Boissevain van Stockum) were both trained in the Montessori Method by Maria Montessori herself. My sister Sheila founded many Montessori schools in the UK and currently is based at High Elms Manor in Garston, UK. We have just located a copy of my mother's curriculum book, which she prepared under Ms. Montessori's direction. We are still hunting for the original book in full color.