“Let us give the child a vision of the whole universe. . . for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
---Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
Children explore first the elements of the physical earth, then other living creatures, and finally other humans and themselves. Inherent in the whole study is the interconnectedness of all creation, the oneness of all things, and the relative newness of the human race.
While showing respect for the positions of others by explaining that evolution is a possible explanation of the origin of the world but that some people hold other beliefs, we are sensitive to the individual person with genuine respect for the community as a whole. The Montessori classroom provides the child with resources and materials that allow for exploration and discovery of the planet earth and of all of us who live on it.
Starting with the universe and spiraling inward, refining this large concept to the individual person, cosmic education, as does every other area of the Montessori curriculum; begins with the large and moves to the small. Exposure to the idea of the universe through Montessori’s Cosmic Education creates in the child an admiration and wonder for the stars, the earth, animals, and especially for one another.
Montessori placed great importance on Cosmic Education beginning with the miracle of the cosmos, filling children with a great sense of awe as one by one they encounter all the wonders of creation that proceed them in history. The most important point being that the child realizes that he or she has an important part to play in this picture.
It is through the daily exposure to different peoples, languages, cultural customs, foods and beliefs that our children develop compassion and an understanding of the differences and commonalities of all people. It is important to us as caregivers and teachers of young children, to aid in establishing a strong sense of classroom community. As each individual child feels respected and valued by others in the community, all gradually become comfortable in this family-like atmosphere.
“The key to community,” as Scott Peck writes in A Different Drum, “is the acceptance—in fact the celebration of our individual and cultural differences. Such acceptance and celebration. . . is also the key to world peace.”
We welcome all the children to share with the classroom community their personal ways of celebrating during this and every season throughout the school year. We believe that is it through the sharing of who we are as individuals, that we grow as a classroom community. We as teachers nurture the children to act cooperatively and encourage them to support one another and to express their delight in each other’s accomplishments. We honor each other’s voices and messages given and promote making choices that will benefit the group as a whole.
Each morning, we gather at circle and greet each other with a song. The circle itself is a wonderful symbol of community. It has no beginning or end, no front row or back row. Each sitting space is equal in rank, indicating that each person in the circle is equally important. It is our hope that the children look forward to gathering together, sharing their stories and thoughts and to learning along side one another. It is our goal to establish a loving, safe environment where our children can grow and develop, not only a love for learning, but love for one another and respect for their valuable place in the amazing cosmos.
*Resource: Nurturing the Spirit, by Aline D. Wolf