The Elementary Community


The elementary program reflects a new stage of development and offers: the integration of the arts, sciences, geography, history, mathematics, and language that evokes the cosmic imagination and abstraction of the elementary child; the presentation of knowledge as part of a large-scale narrative that unfolds the origins of the earth, life, human communities, and modern history, always in the context of the wholeness of life; presentation of the formal scientific language of zoology, botany, mathematics, anthropology, geography, and geology, thereby exposing the child to accurate, organized information and respecting the child's intelligence and interests; the use of timelines, pictures, charts, and other visual aids to provide a linguistic and visual overview of the first principles of each discipline; a mathematics curriculum presented with concrete materials that simultaneously reveal arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic correlations; Montessori-trained adults who are "enlightened generalists" (teachers who are able to integrate the teaching of all subjects, not as isolated disciplines, but as part of a whole intellectual tradition); an emphasis on open-ended research and in-depth study using primary and secondary sources (no textbooks) as well as other materials, and; "going out" to make use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.

As in the Early Childhood classroom, the Montessori materials are a means to an end. They are intended to evoke the imagination, to aid abstraction, to generate a world view about the human task and purpose. The child works within a philosophical system asking questions about the origins of the universe, the nature of life, people and their differences, and so on. On a factual basis, interdisciplinary studies combine geological, biological, and anthropological science in the study of natural history and world ecology.

The program is made up of connective narratives that provide an inspiring overview as the organizing, integrating "Great Lessons." Great Lessons span the history of the universe from the big bang theory of the origin of the solar system, earth, and life forms to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilization. Aided by impressionistic charts and timelines, the child's study of detail in reference to the Great Lessons leads to awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.

Studies are integrated not only in terms of subject matter but in terms of moral learning as well, resulting in appreciation and respect for life, moral empathy, and a fundamental belief in progress, the contribution of the individual, the universality of the human condition, and the meaning of justice.

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