Mary Anne Müller

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1999
Escuela Agroecologica De Pirque


This profile was prepared when Mary Anne Müller was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Mary Anne Müller recognizes that while the educational system is adapting–albeit in many cases too slowly and with great inequity–to the demands of a changing economy, it is doing little to adjust to new social pressures, changing family structures, and an especially acute sense of disillusionment among economically disadvantaged youth. Through the introduction of personal development into all facets of the learning process, she is enabling youth in her native Chile to see themselves as important agents of change in their own lives, regardless of the violence, poverty, and other social ills that surround them. Focusing on the secondary school setting, Mary Anne has developed a methodology which fosters responsible decision-making, builds students' self-esteem, and encourages them to understand the importance of respect for their natural environment. Much of the success which Mary Anne and her team of teachers has been able to achieve is due to the unique blend of tools created to help students become responsible decision-makers. The students are told from day one that although they can't change the circumstances of their lives (abusive parents, crumbling homes, peer pressure, etc.), they do have the right and the opportunity to build positive futures for themselves and ultimately for their own families. Unlike many of their peers in other Chilean schools, youth graduate from Mary Anne's high school with a strong grasp of Spanish, arithmetic, history, and other more traditional subjects, but also skills in business administration, organic agriculture, conflict resolution, and even meditation, which together help them move into adulthood as productive, responsible citizens.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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