Cosmic education is primarily dedicated to the child in the second plane of development. This method was carefully designed by Dr. Maria Montessori and her son, Mario after years of observations. Dr. Maria Montessori used the term cosmic education for children ages 6 through 12 years. As the children enter the second plane of development, the human tendencies continue to operate, while new physiological characteristics begin to assert themselves: the emerging power of the imagination, the drive to know the reasons of things, a need for abstraction and intellectual activities, a drive to perform extended and elaborate work, and a focus on issues of morality. Each of these aspects of the child receives its own measure of attention as cosmic education is presented through the years. Even though in a physical classroom we usually see children grouped in ages 6 - 9 and 9 - 12, Cosmic Education and the approach towards the child does not change.
Dr. Maria Montessori stated, We claim that the average boy or girl of twelve years who has been educated till then in one of our schools knows at least as much as the finished high school products of several years seniority, and the achievement has been at no cost of pain or distortion to the body or mind. Rather are our pupils equipped in their whole being for the adventure of life, accustomed to the free exercise of will and judgment, illuminated by imagination and enthusiasm. Only such pupils can exercise rightly the duties of citizens in a civilized commonwealth.
With this thought the child must begin to understand that laws are not oppressive, but rather are a natural part of life and enable us to maintain harmony and order. Cosmic Education reveals to the second plane children that all things in our universe are connected. This is how Mari Montessori manifests her concept of Cosmic Education. “The laws governing the universe can be made interesting and wonderful to the child, more interesting even than things in themselves, and he begins to ask: ‘What am I?” What is the task of man in this wonderful universe? Why we struggle and fight? What is good and evil? Where will it all end?”
Cosmic Education invites second plane children to see themselves as part of a whole, as they are assisted in the task of building their own personalities. They are led to place themselves in relation to others, both animate and inanimate, and to understand that they have responsibility towards others, that they do not exist for themselves alone. They gradually come to an understanding of the cosmic task of humanity: Humanity continues the creation and has a responsibility for maintenance of the balance of nature.
With the Cosmic Education children find their answers for "the reasons of things" as they are focused on how and why things were and are as they were and are. They are invited to find links between the disciplines as a study of one specific object inevitably leads to all the other disciplines. Relationships and connections fascinate the children and as they ascertain these interrelationships they achieve a state of calmness and repose, become normalized.
The Content of the Cosmic Education
When Maria Montessori observed the needs of elementary-aged children she recognized that their interest covered all areas of knowledge and that their studies would tend to lead them from one area to another. She found out that they need something about all areas and would allow them organize any new peace of knowledge around it. And the answer for both was the presentation of the Universe, the story that is given at their entry into a Montessori elementary classroom and bring an impression of the immensity and wonder of the Universe by exploiting experiments and colorful charts.
Then follows the evolution of plants and animals which flows to the story of humanity with all its love, imagination, continuing achievements, and actions on and in the environment. The study of humanity through time leads to contact with such creations as art, idealism, music, language, and mathematics.
The first great story, God with No Hands, introduces children to the universe and sets the stage for everything else. Maria Montessori said, “Let us give him a vision of the whole Universe. The universe is an imposing reality and an answer to all questions.” If we start with the universe, we have something broad enough to answer all of the children’s questions. “We shall walk together on this path of life, the teacher and child, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other, to form one whole unity.”
Onto the stage set by the first great story comes life: plants and animals. The second great story is The Coming of Life with the Timeline of Life. With just the first two great stories, a vast field of exploration opens in the classroom. Plants and animals, even in all their diversity, were not enough to carry out the totality of the grand plan that lies in the Universe. The furnished environment of plants and animals needed an agent for its total fulfillment. This sets the stage for the third great story: The Coming of Human Beings.
The first three great stories develop gratitude to God. They help the children to realize how grateful we need to be to whatever it is we believe maintains the law and order of the Universe.
The third great story is the story of Human Beings. It seems that we came onto the earth not just to inhabit it, but also with work to accomplish. The third story, in turn, leads to the two stories written by human beings: Communication in signs and The story of numbers.
Communication in signs explains how, in order to build upon the environment, human beings needed to be able to communicate with each other through language. Human beings also needed a language for their inventions and discoveries; this is the story of numbers.
We can wait to present these stories, because language and math start on the first day, building on the work from primary. These two stories don’t open subject areas like the other great stories do, but they are vitally important in keeping the subjects of math and language related to cosmic education and integrated in the classroom.
Cosmic Education unfolded starting with the Great Stories, as shown above, and with the Key Lessons. Those all lessons are components of an educational approach based on the Montessori's theory of "The Four Planes of Development" and they respond to the urges, interests and powers of the second plane children. One of the analogies to understand that is that with the Great Stories children are introduced to the library with all human knowledge and with the Key Lessons books and their chapters are shown, the details, item by item, some new information is given, new material is presented, another exercise in a progression is shown which allows the mind to build up knowledge and to continue searching on its own for what it does not know.
Key lessons introduce Fundamental Concepts, supply critical nomenclature and skills, provide more details, support repetition through variety and elaboration, support the child's learning and understanding.