Montessori Philosophy and the connection to Nature-Study
Dr. Montessori concluded that “establishing lasting peace is the work of education” and emphasized the importance of the child’s evolving connections to the physical and social worlds to achieve this. She believed that, “The observation of nature has not only a side that is philosophical and scientific, it also has a side of social experience that leads on to the observations of civilization and the life of men.”
from Wings, Worms, and Wonder: The Cultural and Developmental Significance of Creating a Nature-Study Guide for the Twenty-first Century, Kelly Johnson
Maria Montessori achieved great long term success in her Philosophy and Method’s ability to blend science and sentiment seamlessly while helping the child understand his place in the current world and future peaceful world. Montessori strongly believed that a peaceful world will come though a new style of education which teaches compassion of and connection to all living things and observed that “When individuals develop normally, they plainly feel a love for all living creatures.
By embracing this balance, Montessori schools have been successful for the last century using what Maria Montessori termed the “cosmic education” to help students understand the connections between the world’s biodiversity and themselves. This Method encourages children to explore the webs of life and their place and the impacts of their actions on those webs through spontaneous nature observation, discovery, and discussion. This balance of science and sentiment is one example of why Nature-Study influenced work integrates seamlessly into the Montessori curriculum and philosophy.
At all levels, the Montessori Tides prepared environment encompasses indoor and outdoor areas within which children have the freedom to work. Connection to nature and inspiring wonder are not only encouraged by the teacher and environment, but are an integral part of the Philosophy and Method. Montessori stresses that immersion in nature is imperative for proper physical and psychological development and stated, “How often is the soul of man – especially in childhood – deprived because he is not allowed to come in contact with nature?” When children are taught to attune with their immediate natural world, they become perceptive and sensitive to feeling nature beyond the visual, and can truly connect to, and love, their place in the world.
Nature-Study in the Classroom
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination” Maria Montessori
16m-3: At the toddler level, the children learn to name and identify the plants and animals in their environment while exploring the natural world sensorially through a variety of activities such as ladybug releases, tending, picking, and tasting herbs and veggies from their garden.
3-6: At the primary level, the children begin to explore the relationships between the plants and animals in their environment while discovering their own role in these relationships. They engage in plant care in both the indoor and outdoor environments as well as experientially deepening their understanding through butterfly gardening.
The Montessori elementary’s science, biology, botany, zoology, history, and geography lessons, known as the “cosmic curriculum,” are infused with concrete hands-on experiences presented in a philosophical way that sparks wonder and helps children feel comfortable discovering their place in, and developing a love for, the world and its inhabitants. This curriculum blends seamlessly with Cornell University’s historic Nature-Study pedagogy which parallels Dr. Montessori’s research and method.
6-9: In the Lower Elementary environment the children expand on their understanding of their role in their natural environment through a wide variety of experiential Nature-Study activities on both the school grounds and out in the community. These experiences spark in depth classroom research which spans across the Montessori elementary curricula. At this level, the children are responsible for the school’s vegetable garden and embrace the seasonal planning, tending, harvesting, and preparing of the vegetables which they share with the school.
9-12: In the Upper Elementary environment the children build upon the relationships created and foundations laid in Lower Elementary. Through hands-on nature experience and research, developmentally appropriate themes of ecological literacy are presented through engagement in not only their physical natural world, but the ways in which environmental and social responsibility influence the child’s relationship to their natural world and greater community.
Wings, Worms, and Wonder: A Guide for Creatively Integrating Gardening and Outdoor Learning Into Children’s Lives – written and illustrated by Kelly Johnson
So you have a garden, but now what do you do with it?
Peppered with anecdotes and friendly advice, while based in research and experience, Wings, Worms, and Wonder answers this question. Above and beyond gardening guidance on topics such as composting and organic pest control, it gives adults with newly green thumbs the tools to reconnect themselves and the children in their lives to the natural world through holistic gardening experiences. It will ignite your confidence to create outdoor learning experiences that nurture both wonder and ecological literacy.
Overflowing with tips for successfully gardening with children in school and community settings, as well as including 36 child tested lesson plans, you’ll find everything you need to seamlessly integrate gardening into both elementary curricula and daily life. Rooted in scientific and arts based Nature-Study and progressive education models, this guide is invaluable for anyone wanting to grow a thriving children’s gardening program. This book will inspire and equip you to sprout a happier, healthier generation of children!
Montessori Tides students on Nature-Study
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Wings, Worms and Wonder Website: http://wingswormsandwonder.com/
Sustainable North Florida: http://sustainablenorthflorida.org/wings_worms_and_wonder/