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Montessori in a Minute: The Third Great Lesson (Coming of Humans)

The Great Lessons

The Montessori curriculum teaches that the world is a place of purpose. During the Second Plane of Development (age 6-12), teachers help students recognize patterns in the world. A large part of the curriculum is discovering how each particle, substance, species, and event develops interdependently. The foundational lessons of the curriculum for the Second Plane are called “The Great Lessons”: The Coming of Life on Earth, The Study of Early Humans, The History of Writing, and The History of Mathematics. These lessons are introduced in an age-appropriate way to elementary classes and are retold with more detail at the beginning of each following school year.

The Third Great Lesson (Coming of Humans)

The first two lessons set the stage for humanity to enter the story of life. A lush blanket of vegetation covered Earth, creatures roamed every corner of the world, and all that humanity needed to survive was provided. This Third Great Lesson focuses on early humans and the three things that set us apart from the rest of the animals around us: a mind to imagine, hands to work, and a heart to love others.


The brains of early humans allowed them to think in a complex way. They were able to do something that no other creature could. They could wonder. Students themselves ponder the many things early humans could have wondered. Humanity had big questions about the world around them. What is the sun, and what is its purpose? They had to tackle the wonder of fire. Perhaps they wondered what lay beyond the ocean.


No other creature can do all humans can with their hands. Teachers lead students in discussions on the many things we use our hands for each day and how similar we can sometimes be to the early humans who came before us. Early humans used their hands to hunt, gather, prepare food, and shelter themselves. Eventually, they formed languages, created tools, and formed civilizations. Students learn about early art and music and the glimpse it gives us into the lives of our oldest predecessors.


The most special attributes passed on to us from our ancestors are our heart and soul. Early humans formed communities and had families and friends who they loved deeply. But beyond their closest social circles, these ancient people also cared for people they did not know. They learned how to support other people in need. Today, our caring heart leads us to help people, many whom we will never meet. The teachers and students work through examples of philanthropy and how we help our friends, neighbors, and strangers, just like our prehistoric family.


The Third Great Lesson is the first story to include humans and sets the stage for the many wonderful, historic inventions humanity birthed from the time they entered our timeline through the current day. Through many talks on the human brain, hands, and heart, students begin to see themselves reflected in early humanity and can start understanding their place in the Great Lessons.


The Montessori in a Minute Series

Montessori schools center around five key areas of learning in the Montessori environment: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. This 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 several Parent Education Nights a year to learn about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.


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, contact us to learn more about us and our admissions process.






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