There is something wonderfully straightforward about children in the years from 6 to 12 years. They have a simple desire to understand everything. In the first six years of life the child creates a person adapted to her place and time; a character is formed and the basics of culture acquired. On top of that foundation she now constructs an understanding of all that is known to humankind; everything that has been achieved and accomplished until now. This in turn paves the way for the adolescent and adult to improve and transform the society of the day – making the world a better place.
There is no limit to what the 6-12 year old wants to understand and discover. At this point she is less interested in purely factual answers, she want reasons. This means understanding the relationship between things as much as the things themselves; the reason a camel has wide padded feet is so that it can walk on the soft desert sand without sinking. The reason some verbs change internally in the past tense – swim/swam- is that they come directly from the ancient Indo-European language.
Perhaps an Indo-European child living some 5000 years ago had a realistic chance of ‘understanding everything’, but humans have created and revealed so much as to make this an impossible task today. Or is it? What the child craves is a framework to make sense of everything. All children will create a world-view, but rarely is the support of this a focus of their education. In Montessori Elementary it is. This framework is offered at 6 and is constantly reinforced in subsequent years. Revealed through a series of stories, the child is led through a narrative that explains the formation of the universe through to the coming of human beings and then human civilisations. Every detail then has a place and illuminates the story further. But what makes this narrative complete is that it offers the child not just ‘how?’ but ‘why?’