Thinking Outside The Box – Pensare Fuori Dagli Schemi

Maria was born in 1870 in Italy.  She had an aptitude for math and science and wanted to be an engineer.  There were few women engineers in Italy at the time.  She changed her mind while in college and decided she wanted to go into medicine.  She was discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine by faculty and her classmates.  She became a star student and became an expert at pediatric medicine.

When she began her career, her interests were with children having learning difficulties.  This led her to having an interest in how students learn.  She applied her training as a scientist to educating young persons.  She redesigned the classrooms to make them more child friendly.  Her subject matter consisted of what she called children’s work so that the children could become more independent.

What Maria discovered was that children were more interested in practical activities and materials she provided.  They were less interested in toys and rewards.  She also discovered that children were developing self-discipline and autonomy.  In many respects, the children were following her own developmental pattern.

Maria’s success became recognized and she trained teachers in Italy to follow her approach.  Within six years, there were schools on 5 continents using her approach.

Today, there are over 100,000 children in Montessori schools in the U.S. and over 1,000,000 worldwide.  Maria Montessori never married because married women in Italy at the time were expected to abandon their careers.

The education innovations that Maria developed are widely used in all classrooms today, even if the school isn’t a Montessori school.  It might seem strange that such a strong influence on education came from someone who was not trained in education.  In fact, many breakthrough innovations come from people whose backgrounds are not in the area one would expect.  Why is that?  Breakthrough innovations come from people who think outside the box (pensare fuori dagli schemi).  They are not limited in their thinking about what others have done.

Breakthrough innovations come from those who apply their own backgrounds to achieve insights that those who are trained in the discipline area may not see.  When organizations need to think outside the box, one effective strategy is to bring together people with diverse backgrounds.  Unfortunately, organizations tend to think of innovations coming from those who are in an R&D silo.  That’s why so many organizations’ downfalls come from disruptive technologies outside the box.

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“If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it is the box that needs fixing.”
– Malcolm Gladwell (an out-of-the-box thinker of our society)

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