Montessori’s vision of Cosmic Education was for children to understand the impact just one individual has on the earth. By developing a heightened awareness and sensitivity to environmental issues, children understand the delicate interconnectedness we all share. By learning to be respectful of others within the microcosm of the Montessori classroom, children learn to be empathetic and respectful to all.
Teaching Montessori Cosmic Education Values Through Earth DayBecoming environmentally aware cannot happen by remaining indoors. Montessori believed children should go out in the world and experience firsthand the beauty and wonder around them. Montessori teachers use the outdoor environment to appeal to the child’s natural curiosity. Children set the pace of nature walks so that flowers may be smelled, parades of ants watched, and the tickle of grass felt on bare feet and legs. Teachers may gently call attention to their surroundings but never rush them or push their own agenda. Nature walks are leisurely and allow the children to absorb the abundance of sensory stimuli present in the environment. Gentle reminders, such as “Ants are living creatures” may be given to redirect children from harming the fragile life that surrounds them.
Montessori teachers involve their students in creative problem-solving opportunities. “Children, our flowers in our garden are wilting. What do you think we should do?” Quickly, several children will happily volunteer to water the flowers. Children are gentle creatures themselves and will rush to their teacher if they find hurt or distressed animals. They also crave order and will quickly alert an adult if something in their environment is amiss.
Montessori was a firm believer in the power of nature. She advocated using natural material and products in the classroom to instill a sense of beauty and harmony in the indoor Montessori environment. She believed that nature was a source of inspiration for all learning and strongly encouraged her teachers to take children outdoors to explore whenever possible. She also believed that the future of the planet rests with the education of the child:
The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction. ~Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, April 20, 2012.