WHAT OUR LOGO IS ABOUT: Montessori’s Five Great Lessons

Our logo is a representation of Montessori’s Five Great Lessons and was designed by Libby Delana, a Newburyport resident. The child, as the focus, is juggling five objects – the World representing the Story of Creation, the Shell representing the Coming of Life, the Hand representing the Story of Humans, the Hieroglyphics representing the Story of Language, and the Infinity representing the Story of Numbers. Montessori uses its Five Great Lessons as an introduction to all topics, providing a “Big Picture” to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, geography are interrelated.  From that point, students are introduced to increasing levels of detail and complexity within these broad areas.

The Story of the Creation of the Universe describes how minerals and chemicals formed the elements; how matter transforms to three states of solid, liquid, and gas; how particles joined together and formed the earth; how heavier particles sank to the earth’s core and volcanoes erupted; how mountains were formed and the atmosphere condensed into rain, creating oceans, lakes, and rivers. From this story, students are introduced to lessons in physics, astronomy, geology, and chemistry.  For example, they learn about light, heat, convection currents, gravity, galaxies, planetary systems, the earth’s crust, volcanoes, erosion, climate and physical geography.

The Coming of Life explains how single-cell and multi-cell forms of life became embedded in the bottom of the sea and formed fossils. It traces the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and the Cenozoic periods, beginning with the kingdom of trilobites and ending with human beings.  The teacher indicates on a time line where vertebrates began, followed by fish and plants, then amphibians, reptiles, and birds and mammals.  This lesson is the basis for lessons in chemistry, nutrition, categories of animals and plants, care and requirements of different animals, and their interrelationship with an ecological system.  Students are introduced to formal scientific language of zoology, botany, and anthropology.

The Story of Humans introduces human beings and their unique endowments of intellect and will. The aim is for the children to imagine what life was like for early humans. This lesson is the basis for lessons in prehistory and the emergence of ancient civilizations.  Students are introduced to an analytical tool to compare cultures.  They learn how climate and topography influence culture and political geography.

The Story of Language describes the origin, structure, and types of writing and speaking.  It begins with a discussion of the Egyptians, who had two kinds of symbols, one for ideas and one for sounds.  The story goes on to describe the Phoenicians, who used the Egyptian’s sound pictures but not their idea pictures.  Next, it describes contributions of the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans.  From this lesson, students use grammar materials, which help them examine how language is put together, and refine capitalization and punctuation.  Students are introduced to the study of the origin of English words from other languages, the meanings of prefixes and suffixes and different forms of writing such as poetry, narrative, and plays.  Older children may study Egyptian hieroglyphics or American Indian picture writing.

The Story of Numbers emphasizes how human beings needed a language for their inventions to convey measurement and how things were made.  The story describes how the Sumerians and Babylonians had a number system based on sixty, which is the reason for our sixty-second minute and sixty-minute hour.  Greek, Roman and Chinese numbers are introduced.  The story describes how our Arabic numerals are similar to numbers found in a cave in India from two thousand years ago.  These Indian numerals had something that no other number system had, the zero.  This story is the basis for the children’s learning of mathematics, which is integrated into all studies.  For example, large numbers are needed in measuring time and space in astronomy, negative numbers are needed when measuring temperature changes; triangulation is needed to reestablish property boundaries after the Nile flooded ancient Egypt.