- Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential.
This, simply stated, is Montessori’s statement and reason for her idea of Cosmic Education. Cosmic in this sense means comprehensive, holistic, and purposeful. “Cosmic Education” differs from traditional education as it goes far beyond just the acquisition of knowledge and developmental growth, to encompass the development of the whole person. Montessori believed that children who are given a Cosmic Education have a clearer understanding of the natural world and, thus, themselves. She believed that those children who receive a Cosmic Education in childhood are better prepared to enter adolescence as independent, confident, responsible, emotionally intelligent individuals, balanced in physical, intellectual and social achievements. They are also prepared to make responsible decisions and act on them in a responsible way; to recognize limits and give, ask for, and receive help, as needed.
To better understand the basis for Cosmic Education, it is necessary to understand Montessori’s vision of human development.
What is Montessori Cosmic Education? The Keystone of Montessori Philosophy ExplainedShe believed that the world was a highly ordered and purposeful place; that war and poverty, ignorance and injustice were deviations from that purpose. She believed that the way back to harmony and order was through children, as it was the children who were innocent of corruption and carried with them the imprint of normalcy.
Maria Montessori believed that there were two things necessary for raising peaceful human beings: an awareness of interdependence and the sense of gratitude that comes from that awareness. By providing a holistic, therefore Cosmic education, children receiving these lessons learn to be grateful to previous generations so that they may benefit from their knowledge. Children are also exposed, not just to humans, but all the elements and forces of nature, the plants, the animals (extant and extinct), the rocks, the oceans, the forests - even the molecules and atomic particles. These subtexts of gratitude echo constantly in the Montessori elementary classroom and children gain a sense of importance, purpose, and responsibility, which they carry into adulthood while seeking a joyful vocation.
second plane of development (ages 6 to 12) as a time to open up the universe to the child in the form of the epic story or “the Great Lessons of Cosmic Education”. Rather than teaching the curriculum as separate parts, abstractly and disconnected, the Great Lessons provide an all-encompassing, holistic vision of various disciplines combined. Children are able to draw connections as the narrative unfolds naturally from the whole to the part and back to the whole again. The Great Lessons tell of how each particle, substance, species, and/or event has a purpose and a contribution to make in development of all others.
Above all, Cosmic Education does not present the universe as random or objectified, but rather constantly stresses the interconnections between all content areas and, in the study of history and culture, seeks to go beyond superficial racial and cultural differences to show how all human beings are driven by the same set of fundamental human needs.
For more on Cosmic Education, please see NAMC's curriculum.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, February 6, 2009.