Tag Archives: high school

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.



Teaching Citizenship After the 2016 Election

One thing the 2016 election has made starkly clear is that we have a dearth of citizenship skills across the electorate – on both sides. Regardless of whom we voted for, we would do well to reflect upon how we got here and how we move forward toward a dialogue that goes beyond the vitriol and blame which have consumed the airwaves and social media before and after November 8. At Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington, we’ve identified core skills that every student should learn to be an informed and engaged citizen. As we enable each individual to reach their Unique Student Potential™, we aim to foster young leaders who have the breadth of knowledge and depth of aptitudes necessary to make actual citizenship work. Three of our core skills of citizenship are outlined below. We all could benefit from taking these to heart.

Information Literacy: According to the Association of College and Research Libraries, Information Literacy is “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.”

“Because of the escalating complexity of (our) environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices–in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet–and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability.”

At Oneness-Family Montessori High School, we aim to teach that information literacy is about understanding the various sources of information, the different media through which that information may be accessed, the context of time and place from which the information is being shared, and the biases, whether intentional or unintentional, which may be embedded in the information. For our students to become engaged citizens, they must be able to discern the what, where and why of information in order to determine – to the highest degree possible – what is accurate and what is true.

Critical Thinking: According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.”

“Critical Thinking entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts; empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences; objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference. Critical thinking — in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes — is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking.”

Our aim at Oneness-Family Montessori High School is for students to become proficient critical thinkers, capable of analyzing the writing or thinking of others in order to determine what the core thoughts and purposes might be. Critical thinking is absolutely essential in the civic arena, where the key messages of politicians and leaders are expressed by means of a wide variety of rhetorical devices. Understanding the power of language to persuade and inspire can both inure a citizenry from demagogues and also help identify the attributes that define those leaders we admire most in history.

Civics: Civics is the study of citizenship and government. It includes the history of our government’s foundation and it’s development over time. Civics begins by deep reading and reflection upon on the core documents that define our democracy, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, among others. By studying civics, students learn how power and responsibility are shared in American democracy – and how our government both empowers the individual to reach for his / her dreams – and at the same limits the power of any individual to usurp the will of its citizenry as a whole.

Civics teaches the origins of democracy and the historic versions of democracy – from the ancient Greeks to the Iroquois confederacy. It also explores the impact of American politics on world affairs – from our founding to the current day. The teaching of civics highlights the central role of law in the American constitutional system; how our laws enshrine the fundamental truths which we hold as “self-evident – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” By studying civics we learn that, while the rights of American citizens are encapsulated in our founding documents and preserved in our legal system, those rights can only be guaranteed by the informed and active participation of citizens in the democratic process itself.

At Oneness-Family Montessori High School, we encourage our students to take heed of the words inscribed on Thomas Jefferson’s memorial: “Vigilance is the price of freedom”. Students who will be the leaders of tomorrow must understand that being a citizen means staying informed, being engaged and understanding the value of a free press. They also must have a knowledge of how the world is organized politically and how civic participation in the American political system compares to that in other societies around the world. In the end, being a part of a pluralistic democratic political system requires a knowledge base and a set civic skills – such as dialogue and debate – along with a good dose of patience.

If your preferred candidate won the 2016 election: you could gloat, ignore the disparity between the electoral college and the popular votes, and think the work for now is done. If your candidate lost, you could give in to despair and apathy – and blame the system for failing to allow your points of view to be heard. Neither of these responses will be very helpful working through the challenging times and hard work ahead. Sometimes – even often times – democracy is messy and uncomfortable. Let’s do our part to “up our game” as American citizens regardless of our political beliefs. We can start by going back to Civics 101. And let’s hope the next generation of Montessori educated leaders will help ensure that our democracy survives and thrives forever.



The Oneness-Family Montessori High School (OFMHS) of Washington D.C. has announced two new scholarships for 8th grade students who are emerging innovators, entrepreneurs and conscious global citizens, that will enable them to benefit from a Montessori High School education.

The Maria Montessori Scholarship ($25,000) is named for the late Italian physician and educator who founded the philosophy of education that inspires the high school program.  The Helen Kutt Scholarship ($10,000) honors the late mother of OFMHS founder Andrew Kutt, who supported and inspired Oneness-Family School from its founding.

“Education is the key for achieving social and economic empowerment and scholarship assistance is often the deciding factor for some students and their parents,” said Andrew Kutt, OFMHS founder.

The school’s innovative approach aims to maximize the progress of every student in realizing and expressing one’s individual gifts and Unique Student™Potential (USP). Kutt has worked with educational innovators Sam Chaltain and Dr. Paul Epstein to design a cutting edge high school curriculum that focuses on high achievement – but without the stress, competition and peer pressure of many large public schools.

“We teach students to analyze and evaluate information, to generate new ideas, and to develop entrepreneurial, cross-disciplinary projects that are presented in real-world settings, added Kutt. “Our graduates will gain 15 core skills that set them on a pathway for success in the complex global economy of the 21st century.  Students may pursue the International Baccalaureate Diploma or choose from two other graduation options.

All current 8th graders living in the Washington, D.C. area are welcome to apply for the scholarships. A rigorous application review includes analysis of grades, standardized test scores, participation in available advanced courses, student essays, letters of recommendation, participation in community service and family financial information. The application deadline is January 30, 2017.

Applicants must also submit a Oneness-Family Montessori High School Financial Aid Form – available from the school office. To request a scholarship and financial aid applications, contact the Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington D.C. at 301-652-7751 or write scholarships@onenessfamily.org.  You can also download an application form on the Scholarship page. For more information about the Oneness-Family Montessori School visit onenessfamily.org.

More about Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington, D.C. – Opening 2017: The Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington, D.C. represents a new paradigm in high school education that cultivates the unique capacities of every individual. We provide a project-based approach and real-world experience to free the innate creativity of every student and empower them to become innovators, entrepreneurs and conscientious global citizens. Our goal is to empower every student in realizing and expressing their individual gifts and potential.




Finland’s Schools and Montessori

On November 11, 2016 the Finnish National Board of Education issued the following clarification about changes to their public school curriculum:

“The news that Finland is abolishing teaching separate subjects has recently been an issue in the international press. Subject teaching is not being abolished although the new core curriculum for basic education brought some changes in August 2016. The subjects common to all students in basic education are stipulated in the Basic Education Act, and the allocation of lesson hours among school subjects is prescribed in the Decree given by the Government. However, education providers have had a high degree of freedom in implementing nationally set objectives for more than twenty years. They may develop their own innovative methods, which can differ from those in other municipalities.

The new core curriculum for basic education that was implemented in schools in August 2016 contain some changes which might have given rise to the misunderstanding of abolishing separate school subjects. In order to meet the challenges of the future, the focus is on transversal (generic) competences and work across school subjects. Collaborative classroom practices, where pupils may work with several teachers simultaneously during periods of phenomenon-based project studies are emphasized.

The pupils should participate each year in at least one such multidisciplinary learning module. These modules are designed and implemented locally. The core curriculum also states that the pupils should be involved in the planning.

Although this clarification backs off the assertion that Finland is “abandoning the teaching of subjects”, it nevertheless affirms a national shift in educational priorities – a shift that is markedly “Montessori” in nature. The fact that municipalities and individual schools have freedom in implementing nationally set objectives is the starting point. But specifics such as the focus on “transversal” competencies and work across school subjects certainly echo Maria Montessori’s concept of cosmic education. Furthermore, the emphasis on dynamic classrooms where students work with various teachers in a collaborative setting on real world project studies reflects the trend in Montessori middle and high schools across the USA. The fact that Finnish students will be required to participate in one multi-disciplinary module each year, and also required to be involved in the planning of their learning modules, calls to mind the holistic instructional model and the focus on students as drivers of their own learning that Maria Montessori made central to her educational approach.

Education policy makers in the United States would do well to take Finland’s lead and begin to transform public school classrooms in to places where students learn subject matter in connected ways, are engaged by having choices and taking leadership, and learn 21st century skills like collaboration, creative thinking and information literacy. These 21st century skills are the core competencies of the curricula at Montessori middle and high schools, including Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington – opening 2107. http://www.onenessfamilymontessorischool.org/why-ofs/high-school


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