Our teacher training program is following a hybrid model this year, including both online and onsite training. During a recent onsite weekend, the Elementary cohorts gathered in the morning for a peace circle – a Montessori ritual that reinforces the interconnectedness of all things and celebrates the uniqueness of every being. Afterward, there was a presentation of the first Great Lesson – The Coming of Universe. The adult learners then got busy completing projects and demonstrating experiments.
The Great Lessons are Montessori’s unique approach to organizing the elementary curriculum into five big themes. These themes introduce the key events in the history of our Universe. These lessons are called the “Great Lessons” because they are special, dramatic introductions to key curriculum themes and are shared with the students during the first few weeks of school. They launch the study in astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, geography, biology, archaeology, history, and peace education. Their purpose is to spark a sense of awe and wonder about the universe and propel students’ curiosity forward toward their individual and group work in the key curriculum areas. They also are impressionistic as they stay with children long after they are given. They are the amazing stories of our universe, our human story, and the miracle of life. The Great Lessons consist of the following presentations and connected curriculum work from those lessons: The Beginning of the Universe and Earth, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Human Beings, How Written Language Began, How Numbers Began.