The stars, earth, stones, life of all kinds form a whole in relation with each other, and so close is this relation that we cannot understand a stone without some understanding of the great sun! —Maria Montessori
Understanding Cosmic Education
Cosmic Education is a term that Maria Montessori used as a sort of umbrella for the cultural curriculum, which encompasses science, history, geography, and biology. The cultural curriculum is the backbone of Montessori education because it meets the intellectual needs of the child, connects content areas in a logical and meaningful way, and also prompts the child to consider his/her own cosmic task.
Maria Montessori believed that Cosmic Education produces a new kind of human being—perhaps even a new stage of evolution—where we become conscious of our unity with other humans and with the world around us. The more we become aware and conscious of this, the more we are connected as people, sharing common goals for our growth and progression; as opposed to divided by ethnicity, gender, religion, and/or various forms of status. Essentially, human unity in diversity is the point of consciousness that is born from Cosmic Education.
Teaching Peace within Cosmic Education
It is through the understanding of interdependency and connectedness that we teach peace education, a pillar of Cosmic Education. Peace education was not meant to be understood as the absence of war; instead, real peace is substantially more meaningful, involving total harmony among people—a harmony that comes from the realization that we come from a common ancestry, sharing the same species. As such, peace comes not from the conquest of the strong, but from genuine harmony among peoples. When this is deeply understood, then peace may begin to reveal itself in the smallest of communities; not because we have simply become tolerant, but because our dependency on one another is recognized, appreciated, and held in high regard.
Another outcome of Cosmic Education is the Ecozoic Era, an era defined by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, that explains a time when humans live in unity with nature. This comes from a consciousness of our shared ancestry and interdependence with the Earth’s animals, plants, water, air, and other natural resources. Through Cosmic Education, we begin to realize that a cosmic task of humanity is to become caretakers of the Earth, ensuring that as we live on it and through it, we are also caring for its livelihood and longevity. Not surprisingly, through this awareness and conscious decision-making, we are also preserving the Earth for our future generations.
Finding Connections: Past, Present, and Future
Lastly, Cosmic Education connects the child to the universe as a whole through the Five Great Lessons. These lessons pique the curiosity of children, drawing them into the past, helping them appreciate the present, and leading them into the future as innovative thinkers and problem solvers. It is also through this work that children are given the freedom to explore their spiritual nature by learning about the Fundamental Needs of Humans, and how humans have met these needs over time. Religion is not a component, but rather consideration of spirituality is, or more simply stated, who the child desires to be in the fabric of human history—what is his/her cosmic task, and why is it valuable to the present, the future, and the world around us?
These are deep connections, and they are not made in short snippets of time, nor are they the outcome of a specific lesson sequence. Rather, they are slowly understood and internalized by each child over time. The ultimate goal is that each child not only remain intellectually curious through Cosmic Education, but that s/he also begins to understand his or her role in the story of human growth and progression.