Today's Black Hole Photos Intersect with a Montessori Education

Charles Terranova
The Cosmic curriculum allows children to form a relationship between herself and the Universe and to build a sense of marvel and respect for the vast scale of things, to understand the role of cycles of earth, seasons and life. 
Picture a child on the beach, having made a hole in the sand with a clam shell, trying to fill it with the ocean. The Cosmic Curriculum is that vast and that broad.

After having miraculous successes with the children in San Lorenzo in 1907, Dr Montessori considered education for the children after six. Without the benefit of the science we have today she sketched out a plan that foresaw nothing less than the entire universe as a course of study for children after six. In a marvelous stroke, she intuited that the phase of elementary spans six years, similar to the first plane for 0 to 6 years.

Maria Montessori observed that children from six to twelve reveal similar sensitivities. For one thing, she noted the fading of the absorbent mind and the blossoming of the reasoning mind, the foray into abstraction and the creative imagination. From this she began observing the sensitivities revealed by the elementary age child. In addition to the reasoning mind and the creative imagination, she observed the interest in a moral sense, a tendency to frankness, an affinity for being with peers and a focus on the “why” of things. Along with those came a great capacity for work physical and mental, and a taller and leaner body.

So, when Dr. Montessori got to work she realized that the child of 6 to 12 is turning her attention from the school to the universe outside the school. She exhibited tendencies of wanting to know everything. Gradually, Montessori came to realize that the school could no longer contain the imagination of the six to twelve year old. So, she sketched out a curriculum that embodied five great stories.

They are told to the children in a very impressionistic and imaginative way to arouse a deep interest in the nature of reality. The story of the beginning of the universe is the first story, told with drama, graphics and follow up work in science demonstrations or the physics and chemistry of the Big Bang. Out of this, our galaxy slowly emerged and, after approximately 10 billion years, our planet began to coalesce and take form. This story is followed by the coming of life to our planet over the course of four billion years. Timelines, giving scope and sequence to these events, are studied and manipulated by children to place this history within the grasp of children, culminating with the appearance of humans on the planet. Lastly the history continues with the story of humans and the appearance of civilizations, up to and including our civilization.

Within this epic drama, our students master the disciplines of language, mathematics and geometry, the scientific method and research among many others. Each time a story is told the emphasis is on the nature of all things in the universe being interdependent, that humans have a role to play in the universe and that each of us has an individual cosmic task. That task is brought to light emphasizing in each story, the indebtedness we have to all those who came before us and contributed to the life we lead today.

Along the way our students come to see that academic achievement is not the only goal, that unobstructed, the child will realize her natural potential and that learning involves the physical and emotional being—not only the intellect. The adult at the elementary level has a grave responsibility not only to teach academic subjects but to prepare the child for a recognition of his responsibility as a human being towards the environment and human society. The Cosmic curriculum allows children to form a relationship between herself and the Universe and to build a sense of marvel and respect for the vast scale of things, to understand the role of cycles of earth, seasons and life. It also promotes a relationship between the child and humanity realizing that we all have realization of common needs, to celebrate diversity of cultures and achievements and to perceive oneself as reflection of our cultural environments.

Taken together, our students emerge from their years in elementary with a realization of their responsibility to all life, to the human species through family, community, society and country. They appreciate that as humans in the cosmic scheme they are free to take , but give in return, to share willingly and with compassion and to appreciate conscious and unconscious service. We achieve these ends by teaching from the whole to the specific, by displaying the positive aspects of culture, by employing concrete activities in the curriculum, by engaging children’s thinking challenging with ideas, and providing reflective space. There is no other curriculum for elementary age students with the conceptual understanding of the needs of the elementary child enabled by a practical and well-articulated course of study of such magnitude and splendor.
Located in the heart of Cambridge, MA, CMS is a private school serving children twenty-one months through grade 8 in four distinct programs: Toddler, Primary, Elementary and Middle School. CMS educates the whole child, applying the Montessori philosophy in a joyful learning environment.