Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dark Room Time

I was always fascinated by the idea my 3-6 trainer mentioned about children needing a quiet time for processing information after a long spell of concentration in order to "incarnate" the new knowledge. She called it "dark room time" after the idea that it's much like processing of film.

It's not uncommon to see a child after an intense work choose something a little lighter, or wander around for a little before they can commit to something else. Like they're working through what they just experienced.

For our school this year, I chose to have a lengthy 3 week winter break, finding it a good time for both the children and the staff to really separate from school and recharge. Today I was thinking that the break is also like a dark room time. Everyone has come back to the school this week seemingly more than they were before.

And curiously, where I have personally experienced this feeling of dark room processing time the most recently has been in my kite surfing training. Maybe it's most obvious with motor skills... Two months ago I decided to give this new sport a try. It involves lots of new movements with my body, simultaneous awareness of body and kite, and awareness of the wind. All of it jumbled together into a very intense learning process.

I take one two hour lesson only once a week because I think it's almost necessary to have a whole week go by without kiting for my body to process what it's learned. When I come back to the beach that many days later, I feel that I understand completely what I did the past lesson. Never more so than during what felt like a qualitative leap when I took 3 weeks off from the lessons during these vacations. I returned to the kite feeling like I had mastered it during our time apart!

It makes me reflect on the importance of quality rest and sleep, and time apart from school in order to fully gain the understanding that comes from our work.


Montessori Moments said...

Great post, thanks so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

OOOO! Read Nurture Shock, they have a whole section about sleep and the cementing of new information.

My favorite is when you do a 3-period lesson and it goes miserably, yet the next day the child can remember all the information you showed them! A testament to the mysterious ways in which the mind works...

Susanne said...

Thanks for the book recommendation Montessorimatters! I will look for it!

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