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Montessori in a Minute: The Long Black Strip and Humility

In Montessori education, a simple but profound tool introduces students to one of life's most valuable virtues: humility. The Montessori Long Black Strip can sometimes be seen hanging in Montessori classrooms worldwide, showing the expanse of universal time and humanity’s shortest blip on that timeline.

Teachers give the Long Black Strip lesson as part of a Cosmic Education lesson, explaining the history of humanity and the interconnectedness of all life during the Great Lessons. In this impressionistic demonstration, Instructors usher students outside and show a thick spool of black fabric around a stick. As the children watch expectantly, the teacher unfurls the 100-foot long strip down the street, sidewalk, or long corridor.

As the strip unspools, the teacher explains the story of the Earth. Beginning with the Earth as an uninhabitable fiery ball, the lesson moves through the planet's transformation over eons. The story continues for 100 feet as each new chapter of the Earth's history is revealed by the teacher.

Finally, a small white section, hardly more than an inch wide appears at the very end of the strip. The teacher reveals the true lesson: The tiny white strip represents the time humans have inhabited the Earth, with the 100 feet of black cloth preceding it representing the time on Earth before humankind. Students are filled with awe each year as they understand how little humans have inhabited the Earth and experience a wave of emotions of wonder, awe, and gratitude.

A Lesson in Humility

Humility teaches a child to think beyond themselves. This feeling of awe inspires students to understand their size and place in the physical world. Standing side by side with the strip, children tangibly experience the overwhelming size of the cosmos and their place in it. Ultimately, this activity fosters empathy and a deeper appreciation for diversity and the world around us.

The Long Black Strip is one of Montessori education's most powerful tools for teaching students humility and helping them see their place in the world. As children grow and mature, these lessons in humility serve as a foundation for character-building and relationship skills, equipping students to become compassionate, open-minded, and humble adults who strive to make their community a better place.

The Montessori in a Minute Series

The Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School (Jersey City, New Jersey), the school hosts Parent Education Nights every year to teach parents about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.

Contact us to learn more about Hudson Montessori School's interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children aged 2 to eighth grade.

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