If the Five Great Lessons can be said to be the heart of Montessori elementary education, then cosmic education can be described as the soul.
One of the most important underlying principles of Montessori programs is cosmic education, an overall Montessori approach to education that involves helping children develop an awareness that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent and forms a harmonious whole and that they themselves are part of and contribute to that whole.
Montessori Elementary Curriculum: Cosmic Education and the Five Great LessonsCosmic education speaks specifically to the “how” and “why” of delivering education. Maria Montessori believed that children are the peacemakers of the future, and that education was the way in which children could be raised as citizens of the world who would find ways to live in social, cultural, and environmental harmony. The interrelatedness of humans and all species is at the forefront of all Montessori teaching in the elementary curriculum. This is particularly apparent when the Montessori teacher presents the Five Great Lessons, a series of five imaginative stories told at the beginning of each year, starting in Year 1 of lower elementary, to give students an overall impression of the grand topics of the universe, the earth, and life on earth.
The Five Great Lessons lay a foundation for Montessori students to further explore connections between each person’s actions and behavior and the well-being of the universe. This is the Montessori educator’s primary purpose in preparing, telling and illustrating the Five Great Lessons, and it is with careful attention that this foundation leads to success. Beyond the Five Great Lessons, Montessori educators expose their young students to the wonders of nature whenever possible and across all subjects, so that students gain an even deeper understanding of the natural world, and our place in it.
Montessori upper elementary students are increasingly drawn into the curriculum by their desire to explore the part they might play in the greater world and to understand the responsibility this insight brings. The big questions, such as: “Who/What am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is my role/place in the world/universe?” are the questions of cosmic education, and these questions are of particular interest to students at this stage. The answers are best discovered experientially by the students, across all subjects.
NAMC is proud to offer the elementary teaching manual, The Five Great Lessons/Cosmic Education and Peace: a comprehensive curriculum manual for Montessori elementary teachers.
NAMC offers instruction in The Five Great Lessons in the Lower Elementary 6-9 curriculum as designed by Maria Montessori. With utmost respect for the diversity of our international student body, NAMC in no way requires that the Five Great Lessons be taught, and leaves the decision to the discretion of our students.
- To Educate the Human Potential, Maria Montessori. Clio Montessori Series. ISBN 1-85109-094-0
- Introducing and Exploring The Five Great Lessons in Montessori Elementary
- Montessori Philosophy - The Second Plane of Development: Ages 6-12
- Montessori Elementary: The Five Great Lessons Part 1 – Purpose
- Montessori Elementary: The Five Great Lessons Part 2 – When to Tell the Stories
- Montessori Elementary: The Five Great Lessons Part 3 - Preparation
- Montessori and Imagination: the Second Plane of Development
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, August 6, 2010.