“What does it mean to think? And, how can I get good at it?”
To be good at thinking, children should feel that thinking is fun and should want to be good at it. Good thinkers practice thinking just like they practice kicking or throwing a ball. And Montessori classrooms are ripe with opportunity for exploring, testing hypotheses and learning how to think. In most classrooms, the emphasis is on the “What”, “Where”, and “When”. Montessori settings allow for more probing with “Why?”, “How?”, “How can I …?” and “What if?”. Both the materials and the environment (including the teachers) allow for that kind of exploration and discovery.
Fast forward to when our pre-schoolers of today enter the job market–the jobs that exist then may not actually exist yet today. So maybe the facts they learn today may be less relevant, but their process of thinking will be pivotal. Let’s say they were asked on a job interview, like some of the Google job candidates of today: “How many times in a day do a clock’s hands overlap?”– how might they answer? Or better yet, forget the answer (which is 22, incidentally)–how might they go about solving that problem?
Here’s a thought-provoking NYT Op-Ed article on “Thinking for the Future“. And PS: it’s no wonder Google presents prospective employees with an array of similar challenges. The founders graduated from Montessori schools, after all. And they have both attributed their innovative thinking skills to their foundational Montessori years.