One of my favorite thinkers, Daniel Pink, has just released a new book: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. I began reading it yesterday and am completely hooked. According to my Kindle, I am about 20 percent into the book and have already learned so much. Things that I have spent decades “figuring out” about myself are presented with scientific evidence supporting my deeply held assumptions. For example, I am an early bird. I have most of my energy in the morning. I always have. If I have jobs to do, morning is the most productive time to accomplish my goals. However, I think more freely and creatively later in the day, as my energy wanes. I’m typical in these ways. I accomplish more before noon than I can hope to achieve after 7 p.m.; my best ideas come to me as I am feeling less energetic.
What do you know about yourself? Do you have evidence to support your beliefs? Montessori education supports students as they learn about themselves. What are the best times to accomplish work? How do they learn best? What do they need to be successful? Who can they go to for help? How should they prioritize their tasks based on individual needs and energy peaks and valleys? Learning about themselves serves them during their time in a Montessori environment and beyond. It gives them the opportunity to try things out, build on their successes and learn from their mistakes. We may assume that analytical subjects such as math need to be taught in the morning, when most of us are fresher and have more energy. According to When, there is a subset of people who actually peak after noon and would benefit from having math in the afternoon.
One of the things I have come to appreciate about Montessori education is the focus on children’s individual differences – not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well. As adults, we may know these things about ourselves, but it probably has taken the better part of our lives to figure them out. Montessori children have the opportunity to experience and reflect on their work, their friendships and their approach to problem solving. They have the chance to get to know themselves in a safe nurturing environment. As they move beyond their Montessori years, they take this self-awareness with them to the next school, their work and social lives. They have a leg up on the rest of us as they explore “when” might be the best time for them as they make decisions in their lives.