Preparation for Life, the Montessori Way!
“Cosmic Education results in creative attempts to lead a new and different kind of human life, with responsible participation in all natural and human phenomena.” Camilla Grazzini
Maria Montessori believed that the world was a purposeful and ordered place, where all things work together in harmony to evolve to a higher consciousness. She believed that the world’s deviation from its natural development could be rectified by following the clues found in the development of the child. She believed that an awareness of cosmic interdependence and a sense of gratitude were necessary for the creation of a peaceful human being. For humans, as with the rest of the universe, this interdependence implies both ‘give and take’.
What does this mean in terms of Montessori Education? Simply stated, cosmic education implies learning the great cosmic truth that all elements of the world are beautifully ordered and totally reliant on and responsible for each other. This was succinctly expressed by French priest, palaeontologist, biologist and philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, who stated: ‘Man is not a figure in the landscape he is a shaper of the landscape.’
This perception was shared by Maria Montessori who saw the child as the one cosmic agent through which our full progress as human beings is possible. The child’s role in cosmic creation is through education. The basic premise of Cosmic Education is that all elements of the curriculum be tied to each other, so as not to teach each subject in isolation.
This education begins from infancy. In the first plane of development (0-6), the young child needs the freedom to explore and absorb the environment as their impulse drives them. The older child (6-12) must be presented not only the world, but the whole universe to understand his (and every other human being’s) cosmic role in the creation and maintenance of our globe. They need to realise the scope of the creation of all that is, and more narrowly, realise how humans came to this world and built the physical environment to where it is.
Cosmic Education leads us to the following concepts in our understanding of the cosmos and of our role as evolving beings within an evolving universe. This understanding gives a more hopeful and meaningful perspective to our lives.
Peace, equality, and care of the earth are consciously pursued as one realises the unity of all people and things in the universe. If everything in the universe came from the same source, uniting us with all things, then to harm another is to harm oneself.
With the understanding that the universe is the “all” that there is, one can never really throw anything “away” because there is no “away”. The earth in particular is home to us all and is itself a living, evolving entity.
Human beings are the only known beings that have the heart and mind to contemplate our existence. Through our awareness and care we nurture and manage our lives and this planet, as well as awaken others to the splendour of all creation.
Hope is our ability to observe and assess a situation in a positive manner. Cosmic Education reinforces that despite much violence in the universe, and on planet Earth in particular, life still continues to progress toward a higher degree of complexity.
At the core of Cosmic Education is coming away with a sense of wonder and awe over years of evolutionary labour as the earth prepared itself for living things, including humans, and the thousands of years humans progressed to provide us with technology and comfort from which we now benefit.
In appreciation over all that the universe has progressed, one comes to the understanding that we are still amidst its progression and that the cosmos is still unfolding. The possibilities of further progression cause one to question the next step. If the universe is not stagnant, if the earth itself is a living, changing entity, where do we go from here? A sense of openness to all possibilities is fostered in Cosmic Education.
Cosmic Education will help us in taking a new step forward in our evolution. Put very simply and practically in relation to the development of the child, it is not the adult or school which causes the child to develop, but the inner drives and sensitive periods which create the human personality.
By Jacqueline Baldwin