Maria Montessori called her plan for the elementary-aged child, “Cosmic Education”, referencing her conviction that the limits of the course of study extend into the cosmos. The child in the elementary years is characterized by an intellectual ability to reason and imagine, a sociable nature, a heightened sense of right and wrong, a desire to emulate ‘heroes”, aspirations of large-scale projects, and a wanderlust to go beyond the schoolyard and into the bigger world.
Cosmic Education is designed in response to these characteristics. The stories, the presentations, the impressionistic charts, and the materials all appeal to the child’s reasoning and imaginative capabilities to engage him in further investigation.
Reasoning and Imagination
Cosmic Education recognizes and encourages the elementary-aged child’s new and increasing powers of reasoning and imagination.
These new powers are exercised in ways practical and intriguing. She is able to appreciate that although Daddy has gone on a trip, he will be back on Wednesday, and is apt to wonder about the people in Madagascar who harvested the vanilla beans that contributed to the glaze on a delicious biscotti.
Cosmic Education supports, rather than contradicts, the elementary child’s heightened need for developing social relationships. Lessons are delivered to small groups and a deeper understanding of a topic is pursued via student-led projects. The children work cooperatively to satisfy their need for gaining social skills and acquiring academic knowledge at the same time.
Internalized and Abstracted Conceptualization
Cosmic Education offers a comprehensive array of representational materials designed to help children progress from understanding based on observation to internalized and abstracted conceptualization.
Our materials are carefully sequenced to support the child’s natural progression from understanding through manipulating concrete objects to the use and function of those objects becoming embedded in the child’s intellect so that he can cognitively “manipulate” the represented concepts. Fraction circles make equivalencies simple; the world map of time zones de-mystifies the reality that it is always midnight somewhere on the globe.
Cosmic Education facilitates the child’s development as a mature, equipped, and capable citizen of the world. We model regarding others with an implicit understanding that they, like us, are going about meeting their needs. We specifically address how we can anticipate, avoid, or resolve naturally occurring disputes. We help the children to practice an ethos of respect in our environment and increasingly in the wider world as they go out and expand their territories.
The benefit of Cosmic Education for the child is an opportunity to flourish according to his own needs, pace, learning style, and interests. Children who have a Montessori Elementary Education have been interacting with the world outside of the schoolhouse on their own terms for several years.
They are accustomed to investigating and planning a research project, interviewing an expert, conducting field observations, going on shopping trips, and event planning. They are comfortable with primary sources and research tools. While now in possession of a solid general academic foundation upon which they will build their ongoing education, they retain a young child’s attitude that learning is its own reward.