At the beginning of the year in the Primary classes is the time that the great stories are told. These are the basis for the rest of the Primary curriculum and are told at the beginning of the year to set the scene for the rest of the child’s year. We are in effect giving the children a filing system in which to store the knowledge that will come in a logical and ordered way and one in which retrieval is easier.
The Primary child is ready to engage their imagination and reasoning mind to look at how the universe works and how it got to be like it is today. Their imaginations are capable of taking them on huge journeys across galaxies and time. Telling the great stories captures the child’s imagination and impels them to find out more. The whole Montessori curriculum is based on these stories, which are derived from Science.
At the beginning of the year, many of our Primary teachers also tell creation stories from different religions and cultures. If there is a story important to your whanau, please let your class teacher know so they can include it in some form.
The first great story tells of the creation of the universe. It is often referred to as the Big Bang Story. It tells the story of how the universe came to be and continues until our own earth is formed.
This is followed by The Story of the Coming of Life, which tells of the development of life from the primordial soup of the Precambrian era to the development of mammals and introduction of human beings.
The third story tells of the development of human beings and their ancient civilizations.
The fourth and fifth stories tell of how human beings have used their intelligence over time to make the world more understandable. They are The Story of Math, and The Story of Language.
These five stories form the basis of the rest of the curriculum and every lesson given in the Primary curriculum can be traced back to one (or more) of these stories. Montessori termed this as the Cosmic Curriculum and for her it was that everything was connected and had meaning only in relation to everything else.
The Primary years are very exciting learning wise, and our job as teachers is to excite the child so much that they are interested in finding out as much as they can. In the words of Montessori, “If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying… 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! No matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe… 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? Do we merely live here for ourselves, or is there something more for us to do? Why do we struggle and fight? What is good and evil? Where will it all end?”
What a great way to start the year!