Dr. Montessori Revolutionizes the Business World!

Dr. Montessori Revolutionizes the Business World

By Dijana Bate, Glebe Montessori School Founding Director

observation_cmykDuring the early 1900’s, Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician, created a revolution in childhood education with the Montessori Method. She referred to her work as “scientific pedagogy”, calling for education to be transformed by science.  Dr. Montessori would probably never have guessed that 100 years later, she would stir up a revolution in the business world, inspiring a new generation of innovators to adopt her educational theories and practices in the workplace.

Forbes recently published an article, Montessori Schools Offer Big Lessons for ‘Managers,’ noting how the principles put into practice in a Montessori classroom can be successfully applied to an office environment, to enhance adult performance. The article refers to Dr. Montessori’s focus on the prepared environment, a self-managing structure that fosters independence and organization. The role of the Montessori teacher as facilitator rather than an authority figure serves as a model for the workplace, “replacing a command control structure with a structure that is built on trusting employees’ inner drive to lead and contribute.” Employees could highly benefit from a Montessori culture that encourages self-motivation, a sense of purpose and inner satisfaction derived from fulfilling goals and objectives in a collaborative atmosphere.

When Barbara Walters asked Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin the secret to their success, they attributed it to their “Montessori training in not following rules and orders, being self-motivated and questioning what’s going on in the world…. and doing things a little bit differently.” They were in good company with Amazon and Wikipedia founders Jeff Bezos and Jimmy Wales, also Montessori students. Mr. Bezos credits Montessori for his “enthusiasm for experimentation.” In Dr. Montessori’s words: “We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself…The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” She recognized the child’s innate drive and passion to learn: “We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” 

Attributes cultivated in a Montessori classroom, more specifically independence, self-motivation, self-discipline, critical thinking and organizational skills, are key to success in any profession. Montessori education teaches students to “observe, listen, look for patterns, make connections and reflect on how things fit together and how they work.” —Montessori Group. Dr. Montessori also knew the value of the imagination: “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.  Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but to touch his imagination so as to enthuse him to his innermost core…”

The 2016 World Economic Forum Report cites a popular estimate that 65 percent of today’s school children will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be created. This is significant, especially considering the role of educators and teachers who must prepare our children for changing technology and labour market dynamics; unanticipated innovations will rapidly outdate many of our work methods and organizations. The workplace of the future will not only transform workspaces, but also redefine how individuals work. Rather than hierarchical systems, businesses will rely on horizontal, decentralized, collaborative, hyper-connected frameworks. Our globalized, fast-changing world will require employees’ skills to constantly be upgraded, favouring those who are resilient, autonomous and self-motivated. One of the best gifts we can give our children is to instill a love of the learning process, so they can welcome and be at the forefront of change and innovation.

New ideas are currency. A fundamental message Dr. Montessori may impart to this contemporary generation of business leaders is that creativity and innovation stem from a love of learning and a questioning, disciplined mind. Applying basic Montessori tenets to both educational and business models will ensure that individuals, today and tomorrow, young and old, can flourish in unpredictable times, when change is the only constant.