The Cosmic Explorer
In the primary environment the child has built up his coordination of movements, order, concentration, and independence mainly through individual work. Now, in the Montessori Elementary Environment the child aged 6-12 begins his exploration of the world through group work. Montessori called the elementary child the “cosmic explorer” because of the child’s fascination with the exploration of the world. The elementary child uses his imagination to learn therefore we appeal to it along with his emerging sense of reason.
Cosmic Education is the name given to the Montessori elementary program. The child must be afforded the grandeur of a whole view of the universe and the details must be seen in relation to the whole. Mario Montessori, described it this way, “we arrive at the history of mankind which, to be understood, must be inserted into the life of the earth and the universe.”
We begin this by presenting the whole through the five great stories. The first story deals with the creation of the universe (geology, geography, astronomy, physics, and chemistry). The second story is about the coming of life (paleontology, zoology, botany). The third story is about the coming of human beings (early man, civilizations, economic and political geography). And the fourth and fifth great stories are about the special creations of human beings, that of writing and numerals. After the stories the details are studied. As the child studies all the elements of the universe he begins to realize that there is a law and an order and an interconnectedness of all things. As the elementary child researches this interconnectedness he comes to a harmonious understanding of his planet.
-Children build independence through freedom that has limitations.
-Children build self-confidence through group work and the opportunity to reflect on corrections needed in their work
-Children are part of the learning process working with the guide to keep track of projects and discuss their individual needs and strategies
-Children build self-motivation by following their own interest in the manifestation of child directed research projects
-Children build cooperation with adults and peers in the environment where s/he must work in cooperation and resolve conflicts with peers.
-Children build leadership skills by being given a chance to explore different facets of the world adjusted to their specific interests
-Children build organization skills
-Children build consideration and respect for others
-Children explore their sense of justice by holding and managing responsible roles within the environment
The Elementary Environment can be divided into eight main subject areas: Mathematics, Language, Geometry, Biology, Geography, History, Art, and Music. By utilizing materialized abstractions the scientifically designed materials allow the child to move from a concrete understanding of an idea into an abstract conceptualization.
“…Our great task in education is to give aid to life…If we want to give education as aid to life, we must first of all give the vision of the world and its functioning and show how it is interrelated in its progress.”