At approximately six years of age, children start to develop the ability to imagine and reason beyond the experiences in their immediate environment. As a result, they begin to ask “how” and “why” questions about the universe and their role within it. To support this increased curiosity about the world, during the first term of each academic year, the lower primary classes receive a series of stories called The Great Lessons. These lessons ignite the student’s imagination, calm their mind by answering questions they have wondered about, and provide a framework with which they can understand the world around them.
The first Great Lesson that is presented is ‘The Story of the Universe‘. It is accompanied by a series of experiments that demonstrate how the universe was created and explores the physical laws that govern our world. The next Great Lesson that the children receive is ‘The Story of Life‘, which extends from the first single celled organisms to the arrival of humankind. The ‘Dawn of Human Beings‘ is the third story and illustrates the unique qualities possessed by the special kind of mammals called humans. Lastly are the stories that follow the development of ‘Language’ and ‘Numbers’ from prehistoric times to present day.
As a result of receiving these lessons, students develop a greater awareness and understanding of, and appreciation for the contributions made by nature, individuals and civilizations since the beginning of time. This teaching is aligned with Maria Montessori’s understanding that if we love and understand our world, we are less-likely to destroy it. This understanding of the world comes at an important time in a child’s individual development. They are starting to examine and consider who they are, their possible role within the universe, and how they might preserve and contribute to what has come before them.
The Great Lessons also become the springboard for a wide variety of related studies that delve deeper into the larger concepts discussed. All of these lessons provide an understanding of the foundation and inspiration underlying the development of sciences, math, geometry, language, botany, zoology, humanities and our own sublime human potential. As Directors, we have observed over the years how meaningful these stories are to our students and how they serve to connect them to the world at large and to their own sense of self. The Great Lessons also often inspire students to engage in science experiments and project work. For example, after receiving the stories of Language and Numbers, students have created their own math codes, embedding an understanding of systems, and used ancient languages for their written work in language arts.
The Great lessons are repeated annually to all students in the lower primary classes because as students advance, they derive greater meaning from the stories as a result of their broadened perspectives, thoughts, experiences and ideas (and as we all know, a great story is always worth repeating!)
Best wishes from Susan and Karina
Categories: Lower Primary, News