Monday, November 08, 2010

Montessori Cosmic Education: The Meaning Behind Thanksgiving

NAMC montessori cosmic education meaning behind thanksgiving paper turkey

Let us in education always call the attention of children to the hosts of men and women who are hidden from the light of fame, so kindling a love of humanity….a reverent consciousness of its dignity and worth. ~ Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

I have to admit, Thanksgiving is not one of my favorite holidays. I think it all comes down to a lot of cooking and dishes for what seems like a very short meal. I’m not a big fan of turkey, either. Or, dare I say it, pumpkin pie. And I’d rather decorate my house with stockings and mistletoe than pilgrims and turkeys. I do, however, appreciate the theme of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, when you get down to it, is not about a feast or football or the day-after-Thanksgiving holiday sales rush. Remember the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special? (Charles M. Schulz, 1973) All the kids invite themselves over to Charlie Brown’s house for dinner. They arrive expecting the traditional feast and are outraged to find themselves served toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans. “What blockhead cooked all this?” shouted Peppermint Patty. Wouldn't she have been surprised to find out it has all been prepared by Snoopy – the dog!? Marcie tries to explain: “Thanksgiving is more than eating…we should just be thankful for being together.”

Montessori Cosmic Education: The Meaning Behind Thanksgiving

Then, in true Linus fashion, an oratory is given:

In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: 'We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice."

Many people I know have a tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving, voicing aloud what they are thankful for. In my Montessori classrooms, I had the children write down what they were thankful for. We usually wrote them on colorful construction paper feathers and decorated construction paper turkeys or hung them around the dining hall where we had our Thanksgiving feast. A child’s heart tells the truth: I am thankful for my family, my friends, my pets, and my teachers. Sometimes their feathers read like Christmas lists, but that, too, was ok.

Even though Linus is a cartoon character, I really think he was on to something. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the greater truths of freedom, peace, and justice. It’s a time to reflect on our past and pay homage to those courageous enough to fight for what they believed. It’s time to make connections and learn from our ancestors. It’s time to make amends and start anew. It’s time to honor the past and step into the future with the promise of making the world a better place for those yet to come.

Thanksgiving isn't about turkey, pilgrims, or football…it’s a Cosmic Celebration!

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As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, November 8, 2010.


  1. This is a great post and a needed reminder of the true meaning of things we take for granted.


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