The Formation of Man, p. 6.
Building Peace through Cosmic Education
When we think of Montessori’s model for cosmic education, we tend to think only about the second plane of development. After all, this is really where the main discussion about the interdependence of all living things comes to the child’s consciousness. Using the Great Lessons as a catalyst, children are introduced to patterns of universal truths in our past, present, and future. Within these patterns are four common themes:
- The search for our common ancestry.
- The interdependence of all living things.
- That we are diverse, but there is unity in the common needs that we all share as people.
- The concept that everything has a purpose (or in Montessori terms, a cosmic task).
Maria Montessori envisioned a new human, one whose consciousness was raised to a higher sense of unity and awareness.
Citizen of the World, p. 50.
A survivor of two World Wars, exile, internment, and the beginning of the Korean War, Maria Montessori made it her life’s goal to promote the idea that “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.” (Maria Montessori, Education and Peace p. 24.)
Citizen of the World, p. 38.
How do we put these grand ideas into practice? First, we can model behaviors that promote peace and kindness to all. Commonly referred to as the lessons of grace and courtesy, these behaviors can be modeled and practiced across all levels of Montessori programs.
- Infant/Toddlers: Learning to take turns; saying please; thank you; and you’re welcome; showing empathy for others.
- Early Childhood: Continued practice in grace and courtesy; respecting others and the environment; learning about peace by calming one’s body with the Silence Game or through simple conflict resolution, using a peace rose and peace corner.
- Lower Elementary: Continued practice of grace and courtesy (as above) and the introduction of active listening and “I” messages; working towards win/win situations.
- Upper Elementary: Introduction of class meetings and using the elders in the class as moderators in conflict resolution.
In conjunction with learning about and promoting peace comes the need for and understanding of social justice. Montessori teachers begin planting the seeds for understanding social justice early on through the same practices mentioned above. Additionally, social justice in the elementary years focuses on
- the study of global economic geography.
- school service projects
- asking questions such as “What can be done about this situation?”
- looking at the past and thinking about the implications for the future.
- learning and practicing environmental respect and conservation.
- the idea of global citizenship.
Children discover and learn about these ideas through their research and studies of the lessons that are first presented in the Five Great Lessons. It is not through the teacher’s direct teaching methods or views. Knowledge and its long-lasting effects are far stronger when children discover and become aware of the information themselves. There is so much more to cosmic education and peace than surface-level agreement. At its core is the overwhelming idea that we must all work together to attain peace and prepare our children to be stewards of the planet.
Learn more about Cosmic Education and Peace in NAMC's Montessori Curriculum and Montessori Diploma Programs!
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, November 26, 2021.