Five Great Lessons/Cosmic Education and Peace, p 85.
Dr. Montessori believed that by teaching children to recognize the interdependence of all living things, she would help them develop consciousness of their place on earth. This is the basis for cosmic education, an overall approach to education that involves helping students develop an awareness that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent and forms a harmonious whole. Equally important is guiding students to understand that they themselves are part of and contribute to that whole.
Cosmic education helps students appreciate their place in the universe and embrace their role with vision and understanding. It helps them identify who they are as individuals, as members of the community, and as world citizens. This is the foundation to establishing greater peace in our world.
Tied closely to the idea of cosmic education are the Five Great Lessons, a series of five stories that give students an overall impression of the grand topics of the universe, the earth, and life on earth. These important and awe-inspiring stories stimulate thought and discussion among the students about who they are, how they got here, and what their purpose is. The lessons are intended to spark the students’ interest about cultural and scientific topics. Based on what they learn in the Five Great Lessons, students are encouraged to research some combination of history, geography, math, science, health, social studies and language arts.
Integrating Cosmic Education Across the Montessori Lower Elementary Curriculum
During the presentation of the Five Great Lessons, the Montessori teacher can instill in students a sense of awe and respect for the integrity of the universe. She can help them understand how their behavior and choices affect the world. In our classroom, we try to provide students with concrete examples that they can relate to. For example, we may discuss something from current events or it may be something more personal, such as a behavioral challenge in the classroom. We discuss the event or challenge as a group, focusing on whether the choices or actions lead to greater peace (in the world or the classroom) — did they display harmony, quiet, calm, and an absence of violence? If so, then that answer or action is in harmony with the universe.
The NAMC Montessori manual Five Great Lessons/Cosmic Education and Peace includes a presentation of the Peace Flower. The Peace Flower illustrates four types of awareness related to cosmic education: self-awareness, community awareness, cultural awareness, and environmental awareness. Following are suggestions for activities and projects that support the four areas of awareness.
- Presenting a health and nutrition unit
- Inviting guest presenters: dietician, doctor, nurse
- Writing a diary/journal
- Establishing character education programs
- Joining leadership programs such as The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, The Virtues Project, and ME to WE leadership conferences
- Volunteering at a local seniors’ home
- Visiting a local school for students with disabilities
- Going out activities to a fire hall, ambulance service, air ambulance, search and rescue, local newspaper, or news station
- Cooking for a community event
- Sending packages to communities suffering from natural disasters
- Researching reports on peacemakers and influential leaders
- Attending a children’s festival or folk festival
- Going out activities to a museum or art exhibit
- Guest dancers or musicians from different cultural backgrounds
- Guest presenters from different cultural backgrounds to teach a cooking class
- Corresponding with pen pals from other countries
- Sponsoring a child from another country
- Planting and maintaining a school garden
- Picking up garbage around the school on a regular basis
- Cleaning up a local park
- Planting trees at a local park
- Going out activities to a recycling center, a greenhouse, a strawberry farm, an orchard, conservation areas, parks, or natural habitats
- Inviting guest presentations from wildlife society members
Cosmic education guides children’s perspectives as they try to understand the world around them. It raises the consciousness of the child to understand the unity of all humankind, all living things, and all parts of the universe. There is no greater role for the Montessori teacher than to awaken this moral compass within the child.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.