At yesterday’s briefing for parents; Principal Bill Conway and teachers Kei Ikeda and Raji Sivapalan discussed the key theme of “Guided by Nature” at the recent international congress they attended. The many non-Montessorian keynote speakers were saying much of what Dr Maria Montessori said 100 years ago, but in a different language. They presented current research that shows that for optimum learning and the development of the whole child, ’nature’ is central and key. ‘Nature’ holds several meanings. It acknowledges that children hold the key to the future, they are part nature and they follow the natural laws of development; and that we as adults have the responsibility to nurture and guide them, to create the optimal environment to reach their potential and remove obstacles that impede their natural development. Central to this was the common point from speakers that children need to engage in the natural environment as much as possible. The natural world around them holds the stimulus for all learning and the ability to connect with nature actually nurtures the soul.
So how do we create this optimal environment? Our curriculum, Cosmic Education, is the answer. In the First Plane of development (0-6 year olds) we give the child the world, in other words - we give the child experience in nature to understand the world with their senses. They touch, feel, see, hear, smell and taste. In the Second Plane of development (6-12 year olds) we give the child the Universe. The child understands the universe and everything within that universe that he or she lives in. In addition to experiencing through the senses they are now able to use their imagination. We help them to realise they are part of the drama that is unfolding and question them on what part they are going to play in this drama. In the Third Plane (12-18) the adolescent lives off the land. He or she is offered plenty of practical experience to understand how everything in the world is interrelated. Finally in the Fourth Plane this adult becomes the protector of the universe because in the last three planes he or she has experienced, loved and lived in this fascinating and beautiful world.