The Story of the Coming of Humans is the Third Great Lesson and it reveals the extent of time humans have been alive and using their three unique gifts before they ever developed writing. The children are filled with a profound gratitude for the discoveries that these anonymous pioneers made which inform our decisions, even today.
“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything.
You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. ”
The Story of the Coming of Human Beings
The Second Great Story takes the children from the beginning of life on Earth to the very first humans to exist. The Third Great Story, The Story of the Coming of Human Beings, picks up where the Second Great Story left off and situates the children within their place as members of the Human species. In particular, the Third Great Story focuses on three very special human gifts: hands to work, a head to reason and imagine, and a heart to love one another.
Through our study of history, the children discover the fundamental human needs which are shared by all human beings throughout time and space. The children realise that all people are part of the same interconnected human family, even though they may satisfy their human needs in different ways according to their physical and social environment.
History is considered the touchstone of the Montessori curriculum because all of the other areas of study are placed within their historical context. When we study mathematics, geometry, or science, we learn the amazing stories of the people who made the exciting discoveries that the children are rediscovering on their own. Placing these other subjects within the context of a historical narrative causes the children to be filled with an enthusiasm for their areas of study and it leads to research in any number of areas.
Research in History
The interconnectedness of all areas of study comes to life as the children realise just how short a time human beings have been on this planet, and how long it took us to learn to use our hands to make tools.
They begin asking all kinds of questions: Why did people chose to live near bodies of water? What is the importance of geography to meeting people’s needs? What do we need to live today, and is that the same for early humans? There is an immense amount of Anthropology in the Montessori course of study, which lends context and motivation - why did people do what they did, and is it different or the same today? Children are fascinated by exploring these ideas, and making their own timelines - of music or inventors or different geographic areas. One student’s interest may spark an entire group to explore, or even the entire class!
Extensive experience in reading and in making timelines gives the children a concrete understanding of the sequence of events in history and also of the context of those events in the larger view of history. Children begin by making timelines of their own lives or their families, then move to making timelines of entire civilizations.
Chinese lessons are given as follow-ups in the classroom to provide children content vocabulary in Putonghua. Children are able to switch between English and Mandarin with equal ease while discussing complex historical topics.
Themes in History
- The Story of the Coming of Human Beings
- Personal explorations of Time (e.g. personal timelines and family genealogies)
- Timelines of Ancient Human Beings
- Fundamental Needs of Human Beings
- Research on Specific Peoples in History
- Human Migrations
- Ancient Civilisations of the Eastern Hemisphere
- Early Civilisations of the Americas
- Timelines of Civilisations