Most Likely to Succeed

Hollis Montessori School will host a screening and discussion of the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” on Friday, November 6, at 7pm.

Directed by acclaimed documentarian Greg Whiteley and produced by Ted Dintersmith, the film has been named “among the best edu-documentaries ever produced” by Education Week. 

The film, which debuted at the Sundance film festival earlier this year, has been stirring excitement among parents, educators, business owners and policy makers with its examination of what drives individuals to succeed and innovate. People who have been involved with Montessori education immediately recognize how closely the “revolutionary” ideas in the film parallel Montessori’s approach to education. 

One of those people is Amanda Heeny, contributor to “The Stanford Daily”, who attended Montessori school through 6th grade. She had the opportunity to interview Whitely and Dintersmith at Sundance, and asked if they’d explored the Montessori method at all. Yes, in fact, they said it did keep coming up during their interviews with the film’s subjects.

Whiteley recalled, “One of the key interviews in our film is [with] this economist named Andy McAfee, out of M.I.T. He was a product of Montessori schools. He gave us this great quote, where he tells this story that for the first few years of his life, [he] just developed this keen interest in x, y and z, because [he] was allowed to explore. [He] was allowed to poke at things and kind of learn in a way that Montessori celebrates. And then, because he aged out, or maybe because his parents moved, he went to a more traditional school, and he said, ’it just killed me. It was just so painful.’ ”
Dintersmith added that there was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago about the “Montessori Mafia” — people like Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Wikipedia founder James Wales, and Google Co-Founders and Stanford Alumni Larry Page M.S. ’98 and Sergey Brin M.S. ’95 all of whom spent their formative years in a Montessori school. The “Montessori Mafia”  found that Montessori was the best education experience of their lives. So, Dintersmith asked, “Why is it in 2015, when the world begs for the characteristics that get promoted in Montessori school, [why do] we send kids to this desert called middle [school], high school and college?”

Fortunately, there are a few Montessori middle schools and high schools. Hollis Montessori Upper School is one of them.

Whiteley said, “Even to be a citizen in this country, it’s not enough just to be compliant and obedient. You should be somebody that’s critically thinking of ways that this country can improve, and how you might improve it — how you fit in this democracy. I really believe the success of not just people, economically, but of our future role as leaders in the world, free people, are going to be contingent upon our ability to think critically, have empathy, understand what it means to be [a] part of a team, and to work as a team, [and have] grit. These are things that our schools weed out of kids. They were never designed to produce those kinds of skills. I believe we innately have them. I think if you go into kindergarten, you’ll find many of these skills. Montessori schools have figured that out. (emphasis mine) They nurture that. The current system does not.”

We’re excited to bring this film to the Hollis community. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required as seating is limited. Reserve your seat online or call 603-400-1515.