When we think about cosmic education, we think about relationships, sustainability, and connections. Cosmic education is about bringing understanding to and awareness of our relationship with the natural world. The Montessori environment promotes peaceful relationships with all people, empathy towards others, and compassion for all living things. Montessori teachers do an excellent job of raising awareness of environmental stewardship. We talk about the importance of saving animals from extinction and taking care of the planet. In short, we are raising conscientious stewards of the earth.
But what if I told you there is more to cosmic education? Awareness of the whole planet is important, but awareness of the environment closer to home is just as important. After all, in all things Montessori, we must begin with what is closest to the child in order to contextualize more abstract concepts that are farther way.
Hunger: the world’s problemWhen we introduce our students to the fact that there are children and families in our own school and community who are hungry and don’t have enough food or proper nutrition, we bring immediate awareness and concern. We show our students that there are people in our community that we can help. And they can see that their efforts can make an immediate impact on their community.
Concrete awareness leads to abstraction. So, if we first present our immediate community, we can later present a global hunger perspective. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that over 820 million people globally suffer from hunger. (Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations) That number is so large, most adults cannot grasp the quantity. So, how can we present that idea in concrete terms that a young child can understand? We can use the Montessori materials we have on hand, such as the Golden Bead Material, to present the concept of what one million looks like. And then, use our imagination to envision what 820 million looks like.
#ZeroHunger: Awareness is more than a canned food driveHunger is more than lack of access to food. It is about food security, understanding about nutrition, and making healthy choices. It is about choosing to be active. If you think 820 million hungry people is a lot, there are even more overweight and obese people on the planet. It is staggering to think that two trillion US dollars are spent each year fighting the health problems caused by obesity and that unhealthy diets are the number one health risk factor of death, surpassing even the ill effects of smoking. The United Nations #ZeroHunger goes beyond hunger, and maintains that everyone, everywhere should have access to enough nutritious food. (Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, 2019)
Fighting hunger through cosmic educationFighting hunger begins at home by bringing awareness of healthy and nutritious lifestyle choices. By making sure we read labels, choose fresh foods over processed foods, and prepare and eat meals at home, we are increasing our own awareness and are on our way to leading a healthier lifestyle. Once we know ourselves, we can open our awareness to global food issues and continue to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating local and sustainable products, producing less waste, and reducing our carbon food footprint. (Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations)
World Food Day is October 16, 2019. Want to learn more about how you and your Montessori students can make a difference? Download the toolkit for educators and youth by clicking here: http://www.fao.org/3/ca5466en/ca5466en.pdf