Cosmic Education and Storytelling
Over the past six weeks, the elementary students at OakHaven have experienced the five Great Stories, and learned a tremendous amount experientially from many hands-on materials, timelines and charts. These play such a large role in the environment. The lessons are not coming from books that are read in sequence, memorized, tested, and then graded. They are part of what Maria Montessori called a Cosmic Education. Dr. Montessori recognized that all of science and history tell portions of the same story: the continuing creation of the universe. Cosmic Education offers children a context for and reveals connections between subjects such as astronomy, chemistry, geography, history, biology and more.
Second plane children (ages 6 to 12) are interested in learning through the use of their reasoning minds and imaginations. They need to explore every possible aspect of the universe without the limitations of the immediate environment. During the second plane of development, the child becomes strongly concerned with justice, fairness, right and wrong – this is the time when the conscience is beginning to develop.
As the Elementary Guide, my job is to help students explore at their own pace and to find out what their role is in the universe, aka provide them with a “Cosmic Education.” There are many ways to guide children towards making these connections. One is by giving them the opportunity to listen to stories that help prepare them for their own unique Cosmic Task.
Cosmic Education gives the Guide a different role from that of the traditional teacher. Every year, the stories are retold so that students will hear them several times throughout their elementary years. A first-year student will most certainly have different takeaways than one who is in their sixth year in the classroom (and, therefore, hearing the story for the sixth time). While the traditional teacher determines what is important for the children to learn, the Montessori Guide tells the story, allows the children to come to their own conclusions and apply this information to their environment.
Everything has a history, from mathematics and language to geography. By using words to describe a mathematical process, language and math are linked. Geographical terrain is affected by plants and animals. Storytelling with Montessori Elementary students helps open a world of public speaking, drama, performance, and helps language arts come alive.
Cosmic Education satisfies children's developing awareness of the larger community, offering them all of human history at a time in their development when they are preoccupied with "going out" to meet the world. After students complete their sixth year in the Montessori Elementary classroom, their Cosmic Education launches them into society with a strong conviction of who they are as individuals, the human species, and citizens of a nation. Ultimately, it introduces the possibility that humanity might have a meaningful purpose beyond consumption and procreation.
There is so much more I could share about the second plane child, but as I tell the students after every Great Story, “ That is a story for another day.”