(Extract from "Profil der Montessori-Pädagogik und ihrer Einrichtungen"(=Profile of Montessori Pedagogy and its Institutions), worked out by Prof. Dr. Hans-Dietrich Raapke, University of Oldenburg, and the expert group "Theorie" of the trainers' conference of the German Montessori Association).
The "school of the child" is not a school for the child. According to Montessori and according to the knowledge of today's developmental psychologists, children of this age are highly eager to learn. Their "hungry intelligence" needs plenty of "food". They want to know all about this world and are now able to create coherent images of the world and its parts beyond their concrete perception. At that age the development of the intelligence therefore aims at two things: the ability of abstraction and the powers of imagination. The "seed of science" is sowed here. Nevertheless, in Montessori's opinion, children of this age are often demanded too little of or in a wrong way.
The focus at this stage is on the acquisition of the basic competences in reading, writing and mathematics as well as in the scientific, cultural, social and political elementary education. According to Montessori, the guiding principle for the school of the child at this stage of development is the "Cosmic Education". This term is mainly unknown in the technical language of language. "Cosmic Education" is about
That is why Cosmic Education - despite many points in common as regards content - is not identical with the social studies and science at regular Primary Schools. However, the similarities with today's ideas of the ecology movement are unmistakable. Montessori used the term "ecology" in the context of Cosmic Education herself (cf. Montessori, Maria: "Kosmische Erziehung", 5. Auflage, Freiburg 2002; cf. Eckert, Ela: Maria und Mario Montessoris Kosmische Erziehung - Vision und Konkretion, Bad Heilbrunn 2001; Fischer, R./Klein-Landeck, M./Ludwig, H. (eds.): Die "Kosmische Erziehung" Maria Montessoris, Reihe Impulse der Reformpädagogik Bd. 2, Münster 1999).
In practice, it is often necessary to make compromises. Montessori schools must adapt in a way to the regular school system, especially as far as the curriculum is concerned, that students have the possibility switch to a regular school at any time.
The "school of the child" should be responsive to the children's thirst for knowledge and the children's ambition to be explorers and adventurers. The children should have the chance to expand their mental, social and cultural range of activity. The broadening of the knowledge of the world should be the means for the transition to abstraction. In the prepared environment - in modern words: the cultivation of learning - at school as well as in the steps outside social and moral consciousness can be formed. With the special sensibility to justice, which is typical of their age, children can develop the ability to assess their own and others’ actions.
(For more information on Montessori's primary education cf. Stein, Barbara: Theorie und Praxis der Montessori-Grundschule (=Theory and Practice of Montessori Primary School), Freiburg 1998 and Ludwig, Harald: Montessori-Schulen und ihre Didaktik (=Montessori Schools and their Didactics), Baltmannsweiler 2004)