Montessori (1949) believed that the role of the educator was to bring about peace in a society, and to do that she realised that children need to see the bigger picture and understand their place within the world. They need to understand how the different areas of their world link together, in order to understand why no creature can live as an individual and why interconnectedness provides the sustenance for life.
But what is a cosmic education?
Traditionally, we have always taught children about science, mathematics, history, art and languages, and these are all covered in a Montessori Cosmic Education. We just have to imagine a slightly different way of doing this.
A Cosmic Education involves looking at all the different areas of our cosmos and seeing the interconnections between them. The five Great Lessons are key to introducing the cosmic education. These five lessons are revisited regularly in order to visit different topic areas and subjects. They act as a spring board and lead children to discover more about the topics they hear in the stories.
The firstGreat Lesson is The Coming of the Universe and Earth where we take a journey to the stars! Having been inspired by this children go on to explore our solar system and earth. They visit topics such as the planets, weather and the rock cycle. Areas of physics and chemistry, such as gravity, energy and states of matter, help children to move towards a more abstract way of thinking. We learn about history through the ice age and different eras of the earth and we study geography and geology in order to make sense of our planet.
The Second Great Lesson is the Coming of Life, and with life comes biology. After our story of the timeline of life we study all different forms of biology, from the micro to the macroscopic. We look at how life has evolved and at the different needs of all forms of life. Interdependence between living forms is a key topic and we use the fossil record to help understand different species which did not survive.
When we look at the Third Lesson: The Coming of Human Beings, we take a closer look at what makes us special; our minds, our hands and our ability to love. Through these key areas, children are inspired to look more deeply to see how civilisations and societies developed. From ancient civilisations to modern history, children look at key events that have helped shape the world we live in today. Looking at different cultures and social studies and innovation allow children to develop respect for others. Revisiting some of the science we saw following the first lessons, but this time from the point of view of the scientists who made the discoveries.
The Fourth Great Lesson is one of communication. The Story of Writing allows us to understand better the incredible ability that humans have to record their thoughts on paper. This leads to the study of foreign languages, past and present, both in terms of the languages spoken and the stories told. Children learn a deeper understanding of the syntax of their own languages, and the similarities and differences between them.
The final story is that of Numbers. We journey through time to see the reasons that people need to count, from early civilisations who counted with 1, 2 and many, to the current day. We look at how and why we store information about numbers, from keeping track of sheep to saving money in a bank account. Naturally, this leads to the study of fractions, decimals and percentages, geometry and the application of maths to solve problems.
The stories are referred to on a regular basis throughout the year, and are designed to inspire rather than govern the topics that follow. A child’s interest may be sparked by The Coming of Life and decide to research Polar Bears. Naturally, they will learn about other species, interdependence, climate and much more. The teacher will present new lessons in order to help to scaffold the child’s understanding of the different areas that their research takes them to.
A cosmic education encourages children to understand themselves as individuals, as members of a society and as global citizens, with rights and responsibilities. The Great Lessons of Cosmic Education help children to understand the connections between different areas of the curriculum, so that history, culture, science and the environment area seen as interconnected subjects, not those separated by teacher and defined by the time of day.
When the Fundamental Needs of Human Beings forms a major part of all areas of the curriculum, morality is discussed, through peaceful communication, on a regular basis. Montessori believed that a cosmic education could restore harmony and order, thereby allowing people to reach their true potential.
“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind”
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