In 1935, Dr. Montessori found “cosmic education” as an ideal support for normal development in children over the age of about six. This cosmic framework of learning involves the total interrelated functioning of the whole, which is now a popular topic of discussion and well-integrated at the theoretical level into Montessori elementary education and beyond.
Unfortunately, applying cosmic education in practice has been largely limited to interrelating subject matter for academic learning only, leaving aside its far more important spiritual dimension to adapt children to their unique time, place and function in harmony with laws of nature. The primary obstacle for using this aspect of cosmic education is a fundamental lack of context for understanding Dr. Montessori’s experience of normal being.
Since 1907, Dr. Montessori sought to describe her original experience of normal being within a conventional context, only generally associating this context with the prior indefinite scientific research of Itard and Seguin. However, what is “normal” from the perspective of Montessori’s original experience simply does not exist in a conventional context. Committed practitioners must therefore create the proper context for true normal being without the benefit of proper understanding of its essential nature and conditions.
For over 25 years, IMS has been committed to creating the distinctive context for Montessori’s normal being, gradually evolving the language and technology for its effective communication to others. In 2003, a major breakthrough occurred in this research with the completion of a comprehensive technology.
While this knowledge will eventually be detailed in full-text format, IMS has been seeking to apply it to overcome such practical problems as wide-spread poverty and abusive child labor throughout the world. This research has now evolved into the “Character Teaching” (CT) project, which aims to resolve the cause of these problems by providing a proper context and means for the normal character development of poor working children.
Besides a formal model school component, the CT project offers informal tutoring in the streets with poor working children. This informal component employs a novel exchange of value concept; i.e., the child giving a small amount of time for instruction in exchange for receiving a small amount of money. Repeating these exchanges frequently over time, the children involved will acquire experiences and habits of behavior that bring about qualities of integrity, patience and self-respect, which can become deeply incorporated into their whole basic character for life.
In 2006, Lee Havis, IMS executive director, submitted a paper presenting the critical contextual issues for understanding cosmic education to an international congress sponsored by Montessori-Europe. It will be held at Belgorod State University (Belgorod, Russia) on May 15-18, 2006.
The Havis paper, entitled Understanding Cosmic Education by Overcoming Practical Problems, highlights the experiential nature of understanding normal being. It also suggests how to apply this experiential understanding to create normalizing conditions in practice, using the CT project as a practical current example.