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School Should Be Where Students Discover What They Love

At Oneness-Family Montessori High School, our aim is to create an environment where students can discover what they love. By nurturing the development of each individual's Unique Student Potential™, students gain an understanding of who they are, where they want to go and what it will take to get there. We define USP as having 4 key components: Talent, Passion, Drive and Discipline. Talent is a skill we are born with - something we are naturally good at. Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences is a good frame through which we can think about Talent. Some of us are naturally good at numbers for example, while others may be strong linguistic learners. Certain folks are uncannily gifted with their hands and these kinesthetic learners are often good athletes and / or craftspeople. Most of us are naturally good at a few things - but we each have a unique constellation of innate skills. We are each smart in different ways. We can learn many new skills in the span of our lifetimes, but our natural born Talent will always be the center of gravity from which we learn and the place from which we can contribute the most to the world. Ideally, school should be the place where students identify their talents and also learn to build upon those strengths to improve skills in other areas they are not as gifted in. This is a core concept in Montessori education. Passion is something we enjoy so much we can lose ourselves in the sheer joy of doing it. We may have a Talent for mathematics and at the same time have a Passion for Astronomy. A Passion is an activity that really excites us and captures our imagination. When we do that activity we enter a "different psychological space". A good way to think of Passion is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes in his book Flow. We may have a passion for a number of different things in our lives, but when we are lucky enough to align our Passion with our career, we as human beings are at our happiest. Ideally, our Passion is the reason we get up in the morning; it is the thing we look forward to doing the most. School should not only be the place to help students identify their Passion, it must enable them to envision how to make their Passion a central part of their life plan - for that is where their greatest joy will derive. Drive is what motivates us as human beings. Contrary to what we may think, in the long run the vast majority of us are not motivated by things such as material gain or status. According to Daniel Pink's best selling book Drive, human beings are universally motivated by several key things - such as independence, mastery and purpose. All of us want to be free. We want to be good at something. And we want to have a sense of meaning in our lives. Maria Montessori may have been describing these very same things in different terms when she spoke of the importance of freedom in the classroom, where the students can work toward perfecting a task and can do activities that are meaningful to them. In the ideal school, all students should find regular opportunities to explore, to practice and master skills, and to reflect about why their learning is important to them. School should be where students are the Drivers of their own education. It's interesting to note that Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, has combined Passion and Drive into one concept - Grit - which is defined as "a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective." At Oneness-Family Montessori High School, we believe one final element is necessary for an individual to begin to realize his / her Unique Student Potential and that element is Discipline. Discipline is more than just hard work, though hard work is always a common trait of successful people. More broadly, Discipline is a set of habits that will maximize our chances of reaching our goals. We may have Passion and understand Drive, but without Discipline we may give up on the road to our dreams. At Oneness-Family Montessori High School, we've identified 15 Habits of Learning we believe are essential as students aspire to reach their USP™. These include Personal Habits, Social Habits and Thinking Habits - and taken as a whole they comprise our concept of Discipline. In Amanda Lang’s The Power of Why, she says: “Curious kids learn how to learn, and how to enjoy it – and that, more than any specific body of knowledge, is what they will need to have in the future. The world is changing so rapidly that by the time a student graduates from university, everything he or she learned may already be headed toward obsolescence. The main thing that students need to know is not what to think but how to think in order to face new challenges and solve new problems.” “Curious kids learn how to learn, and how to enjoy it." The schools our world desperately needs are places where students can frequently ask the question "Why" - and are free to explore different answers to that one central question. We at Oneness-Family Montessori High School believe that by understanding the interplay of Talent, Passion, Drive and Discipline, students can develop their USP™ and put themselves on the pathway to success and happiness. For an excellent article on related subject matter, visit the link below.