Maria Montessori; To Educate the Human Potential.
“let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions…. All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.”
The Great Lessons are a cornerstone of Montessori education designed to foster a deeper understanding of the world around us and our place within it. They are part and parcel with a ‘cosmic’ perspective or ‘Cosmic Education.’
At the beginning of the year, a series of ‘Great Lessons’ are told. Each story opens a strand of the curriculum and infuses it with the radiance of meaning so that nothing is dry or unrelated, but rather, everything shows the interconnectedness of the universe.
The Great Lessons act as a compass for the learning and discovery that will happen throughout the year in a Montessori classroom. Beyond developmental phases, Great Lessons tap into the growth of the whole person on a deeper level.
There are Five Great Lessons and each one related to certain learning highlights and a curricular focus.
? Great Lesson 1. Coming of the Universe and the Earth
Physics, Geography, Astronomy, Chemistry
? Great Lesson 2. Coming of Life
Biology, Zoology, Botany, Nature Study
? Great Lesson 3. Coming of Human Beings
History, Cultural Studies and Sociology, Innovation and Discovery
? Great Lesson 4. The Story of Writing
Reading, Writing, Language, Drama and the Performing Arts
? Great Lesson 5. The Story of Numbers
Mathematics and Geometry
These narratives, or Great Lessons, span the history of the universe from the origin of the solar system, earth and life forms to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilizations. Aided by impressionistic charts, timelines, and in some cases, scientific experiments, the child’s study of detail in reference to the Great Lessons leads to awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.
Cosmic Education underpins the child’s knowledge and understanding of their environment and the world. It also introduces the possibility that humanity might have a ‘cosmic task,’ to better the world for future generations. This approach develops an awareness in the child that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent, forming a harmonious whole and that they are contributing parts to that whole.
Studies are integrated not only in terms of subject matter but in terms of moral learning as well, resulting in an appreciation and respect for all life, moral empathy, and a fundamental belief in progress, the contribution of the individual, the universality of the human condition and the meaning of true justice. Children learn how to be true global citizens. There is an emphasis on research and in-depth study using primary and secondary sources as well as other materials. This involves children planning their own ‘outings’ and making use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.
The Great Lessons of Cosmic Education at The Clover School is our way of embracing a holistic, broad and all-encompassing, fully integrated understanding of the world…
Because now, more than ever, we need our children to be courageous young people who care deeply about our planet, are kind to one another, and want to make the world a better place.