“Having a concept in your head is one thing. To imagine it, then enact it, test and declare it, allows even greater authority once something is learned. What is learned this way becomes personal property in a most personal way. The Montessori environment exists for no higher purpose than such discovery.”
he first Great Lesson given is “God without hands” – the story of the creation of the universe. To follow soon after is “the coming of life with the furnishings” – plants and animals. Then comes the story of “Man endowed with gifts to set him apart.” Man writes his own great lessons, the story of language and invention (math). These great lessons are impressionistic and are used to touch the imagination of the child. The child in turn uses his imagination to make his own pictures in his mind. The child is free to explore any aspect he has discovered through the Great Lessons.
Because the child is given the universe to explore, there is some concern of meeting the educational demands of society. To take care of these concerns, the classroom elements for the public school are made available to the child. The child knows what is required of her each year. The lessons that appear on this list become the “must do” lessons. Everything else in cosmic education are free lessons.
Sometimes the need for exploration goes beyond the confines of the classroom. In the Montessori elementary class, the child has a dual learning environment. First, he has the classroom, and when the classroom is not enough, the child may “go out” of the classroom for further exploration. The “going out” experiences are entirely planned, organized, and carried out by the child. These experiences are to prepare the child to independently function by himself in the larger community of the world.