“Let us give the children a vision of the universe.”
“Give the world to the small child.”
One of the basic principles of Montessori education is cosmic education. Cosmic education strives to offer understanding of how the whole universe and everything in it is interlinked, from the smallest atom to the tallest tree. Everything is connected and everything works towards the same purpose.
The history of the universe is given to the students through six stories which takes them back to the creation of the universe before showing how life on earth has evolved and expanded. The children are given the big picture of the universe first as this gives the child a perspective on how the earth is shared amongst all living organisms. It shows the child their place on Earth.
The six Great Stories are:
1. The Creation of the Universe
This story tells how the universe first came to be in a big expansion, how the solar system was created, our planet among them. It tells the story of how the earth changed from a planet of fire into what it looked like just before the first living organisms appeared.
2. The Evolution of Life
The second story takes us on a journey of life, starting from the days of the first micro-organisms. It tells how they grew and developed into new living beings that first filled the oceans before conquering land. The second story ends just as the first humanoid species enter the scene.
3. Evolution of Humans
How have our species evolved since the times of Australopithecus africanus to today’s Homo sapiens sapiens? The third story tells about us humans, how we evolved and what gifts we have been given to be able to grow and develop. These gifts, the hand, the heart and the brain, set us apart and helped us survive among other species that were both stronger and faster than us.
4. The Story of Language
Why did people first start writing?
How has written language changed over time?
What did people write with before pencils were invented?
These are some questions that we learn about in the fourth story.
5. The Story of Numbers
This story tells us about how people long ago started making markings to count objects. It tells how the knowledge of numbers have developed and how different civilisations wrote numbers with different tools and with different symbols.
6. The Great River
The sixth story tells us about the human anatomy and all its wonders.
Through these stories children develop an understanding of how we are interlinked with all things, great and small, that inhabit the earth. We are one small part of a bigger whole.
Each school year IMS holds two project weeks when the children delve deeper into two of the stories. This school year, we explored the first and third stories.
In the autumn, the students heard the story of how the universe was created. They participated in several stations where they learned about volcanoes, planets, and plate tectonics. They also learned about different creation stories.
In March, each class held their own project week about the evolution of humans. We discussed and wondered about the gifts the human species has been given, the hand, the heart, and the brain. During this project we also learned about how the early humans lived. What did they eat? What tools did they use? What did the first homes look like? How have skeletons changed and developed over time? The children researched different species while writing and drawing beautiful pictures. Children worked with clay to make both tools and necklaces.
The Great Stories are open throughout the school year. They strive to ignite the children’s interest to research and learn more about the earth and all life on it. They open the world for the child to explore.