Datevig Youmshajekian, Director 9-12 Environment
Cosmic education in a Montessori classroom corresponds to the natural development of the children and their developmental needs during the ages 6-12. It can satisfy their hunger for knowledge, their need to explore and need to stretch themselves expressively using their imagination.
The Great River is the sixth and last great story we tell in the 9-12 classroom. It is a metaphor for the bloodstream or circulatory system where the part stands for the whole.
This cosmic fable told by Mario Montessori begins something like this: “I know of a marvellous nation, a marvellous country where the inhabitants are more numerous than those populating our planet. Most of the inhabitants of this country are hidden from sight, but there is a Great River which flows in secret and links all of them, where all the different groups are specialised according to their work. And the fable ends like this: “Can you feel the Great River that is flowing through us right now? Do you see the strange nation, this strange country? Its inhabitants are in each of us; the Great River flows through all of us. The smallest parts out of which each body is formed, the cells, work unconsciously to keep the body alive. In the human body, a marvellous and divine work of creation, all is unconscious, untiring, constantly working, all is in perfect harmony.” (AMI Communication 2004/2-3).
As you can see in the picture, the River of Blood represents the circulatory system. It crosses many other systems which permit the human body to function as a living organism. The picture represents a few systems and vital functions, since The Great River chart is only an impressionistic aid and is not meant to represent all the systems of the body. The role of the story and chart are used to inspire the 9-12 child and stimulate that strong and passionate interest which motivates them to work and study.
“The secret of success is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown by attractive literary and pictorial material, but all correlated to a central idea, of greatly ennobling inspiration – the Cosmic Plan in which all, consciously or unconsciously, serve the Great Purpose of Life.”