In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “How do Innovators Think?,” author Bronwyn Fryer offered the following observation:
“We also believe that the most innovative entrepreneurs were very lucky to have been raised in an atmosphere where inquisitiveness was encouraged. We were struck by the stories they told about being sustained by people who cared about experimentation and exploration. Sometimes these people were relatives, but sometimes they were neighbors, teachers or other influential adults. A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity. To paraphrase the famous Apple ad campaign, innovators not only learned early on to think different, they act different (and even talk different).”
Thinking, acting, and talking differently. These characteristics signal an individual that has no qualms about straying from cultural or group norms--not because they desire to rebel, but because they have a well-developed sense of personal dignity. This individual thinks, acts, and speaks differently because if they did not, they would be betraying their true self, and they have full awareness that their true self is valued and worthy of respect. They are unafraid to follow their curiosity and to explore unconventional new ideas. Why would they be?
Developing this sense of personal dignity, self-awareness, and individuality is of key importance during adolescence. This is the time when the personality of the child is quickly replaced (in just a few years’ time!) by the adult personality. In these years, they need opportunities to express and explore different aspects of their developing personalities. They need increased freedom in which they can develop the ability to make good decisions. At the same time, they need greater responsibilities and higher expectations so that the best in them will rise to the occasion. They need and crave experiences that will valorize the best in who they are becoming.
“This is the time (adolescence), ‘the sensitive period,’ when they should develop the most noble characteristics that would prepare them to be social, that is to say, a sense of justice and a sense of personal dignity.” --Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence