As the children turn six, their eyes are opened to the wider world. The focus is less on the smaller details and life and more on the complicated universe. The question that arises is “Why”? Why do we eat the kinds of food we eat? Why do the leaves change color in autumn? Why do we use roads to travel from place to place? Why is the winter so cold? Why do we keep track of time using hours and minutes?
Sean Kelly, one of the teachers at Humboldt Park Montessori, writes, “We seek to provide the only satisfying answer - that everything everywhere matters to everything. Any one thing studied by the child is put within its largest context - as one piece of a whole - not isolated but connected - at the center of a myriad of relationships.”
The children are presented five Great Lessons as a part of their cosmic education: The Story of the Universe, The Story of Life, The Story of Humans, The Story of Math, and The Story of Language. Everything the children study fits into these five lessons. Why do we study geometry? Because centuries ago, humans discovered certain geometric principles. Why do the seasons come and go? Because of the way the Earth and sun formed in the universe. Why do we read books? Because humans developed written language to communicate. Everything fits together and influences the movements of other parts of the universe.
As the children receive other lessons - whether they be about fractions or physics - those lessons are connected the Great Lessons so the children can see their importance.
And our hope is that at the end of the day the children find their place in the universe, to know that they matter. They are not isolated but connected to the greatest story ever told: the story of the cosmos.
Cosmic Education. Michelle Graham at TedXTableMoutain. (YouTube video).
Stephenson, Susan Mayclin. Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Ages 3-12. (Book).