When it comes to education there are two important factors including mastery of the subject, and the time allotted for mastery to occur. In the conventional school system TIME is a constant, while MASTERY is a variable.
So for example, in the conventional high school each day is broken down into eight or nine periods of similar length and these remain constant throughout the school year. During each of these periods, students address a specific subject (i.e. math, science, English). If they retain 71 to 80% of the subject they’re labeled C students. If they retain 81 to 90% they’re labeled B students. And if they retain 91 to 100% they’re labeled A students. In other words, time is the constant while the degree of mastery varies among students, which in turn is supposedly reflected in their grades.
Montessori Flips Convention Upside Down
In contrast this conventional scenario is flipped upside down in a Montessori School. That is to say MASTERY is the constant while TIME is the variable. In other words, it may take some students a week to master a particular subject while others require 2 or 3 weeks in order to master the same material.
But the Montessori teacher is focused on mastery instead of on time or grades. The goal is for each student to master the material regardless of how much time it takes. Under these conditions grades are rendered meaningless.
Learning to Physically Pull Your Own Weight
Now what does all this have to do with childhood obesity prevention, Operation Pull Your Own Weight, and learning to do pull ups? The answer to that question is that like Maria Montessori, the PYOW teacher is focused on helping students master the art of physically pulling their own weight (doing pull ups), because the odds of kids who can do pull ups being obese are microscopically small.
Some kids will learn to do pull ups in a month or six weeks. Others will require several months, or even an entire school year. But the time factor is totally irrelevant. The goal is to cross the finish line (master the subject) and eventually maintain the ability, because the odds of human beings who can physically pull their own weight being obese are also microscopically small.
Mastering and Maintaining the Ability
For the record, if you can walk over to the closest tree limb and do at least one conventional pull up (which requires decent eating, exercise habits, and about one minute per week) odds are you will avoid obesity and all the problems that follow in its wake for a lifetime. I ask you, how simple is that?
The moral of this story is that OPYOW teachers agree with Montessori’s emphasis on mastery over time. Kids are individuals and they learn things in various ways and in various time frames. But whether we’re talking about rocket science, brain surgery, flying airplanes, or arming yourself against obesity for life, the key to success is MASTERY, while the time factor should remain extremely flexible. In other words, conventional schools could learn a lot from Maria Montessori.