Some of you may or may not have heard of what Montessorians refer to as the 5 Great Lessons. These lessons are a unique part of any Montessori curriculum. They are typically presented in a (6-9) environment although you will see them at the (3-6) and (9-12) levels from time to time.
The idea behind the 5 Great Lessons is to awaken the child’s imagination about the universe and the remarkable roles humans have played in it. The lessons are titled, The Coming of the Universe and Earth, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Human Beings, The Coming of Signs, and The Story of Numbers.
Each of these lessons are presented as stories. These stories weave themselves through fact and metaphor to create an emotional impact on the child. They are an attempt to compose a narrative that demonstrates how categories, subjects, and nomenclature are a dramatic unfolding of a story that binds us all together. The deeper the child’s knowledge concerning the history of our story, the more passionately the child wants to participate in it.
It is refreshing to know that our students and teachers continue to probe and explore the big questions of existence that we “grown ups” often feel too busy to contemplate. “How did we get here?” “Where are we going?” “What’s my role in all of this?” And the most important question of all, “Why?”
We explore these questions through math, language, science, art, and history. There is a Rumi poem that ends, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the Earth.” I like to think that means that there are many ways for us, through a variety of fields, to study, honor and show gratitude toward life as we know it.
This weekend embrace the “why” a little more than you usually do. Ask yourself or your child a question you can’t Google for an answer. Pay attention to your own child’s “why” questions. Try to answer them with sincerity and patience. You never know, they might show you one more ways to kneel and kiss the Earth.