The Montessori Cosmic Math and Science
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part II of 14 Years of Helping Pulung Bulu Public School Attain UN Agenda 30)

While the conventional teacher directs the intelligence of the child expecting him to use his memory power through lecture, dictation and books, the Pagsasarili Montessori teacher is trained to condition students to work with self-teaching apparata, as early as preschool. The Pagsasarili child reveals abundant energy and love for work. Instead of getting tired, he is refreshed by it. Meantime, the Pagsasarili Montessori teacher is trained to be patient and believes that each child is still in the “process of becoming” as he acquires independence in the Prepared Environment.

Helping the public school children ‘to become’ with cosmic math

The favorite subject of the Pulung Bulu children, believe it or not, was Math and Geometry. Since the lessons are “gradated in difficulty,” as early as preschool, they are introduced already to the Golden Decimal beads and number cards for numeration from units, 10’s, 100’s and 1000’s. This extends to constant drills in formation of complex numbers from 2 to 4 digits. By Grades 1 to 2 they could do 4 digit static operations in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division without remainders and soon after with remainders. The 2-D Geometric Cabinet of insets includes the circle, square (quadrilaterals), triangles (isosceles, equilateral, scalene) are put together by the preschooler after working with the 3-D Geometric Solids (sphere, cube, rectangular and triangular prisms, cylinder, cone).

The universe presented to the child’s imagination

For the enormous reasoning power of 6 to 12-year-old children, we observe the dictum “Throw as many seeds of culture and they will germinate with the flame of imagination.” Thus, the “forest” can come into the classroom using illustrated definitions of the parts of a tree, a flower, a leaf, stems and roots. Actual plant propagation by sowing vegetable or flower seeds, planting ornamental cuttings, excites the students. They are made aware that insects, animals, wind and water also assist in seed dispersal to propagate plants.

For primary grades, each leaf as a production site is shown by the “Leaf Laboratory” Impressionistic chart. It depicts a giant leaf attached to a trunk holding two elevators big and small. Tiny workers busy themselves on the railway tracks along the veins of the leaf. First the large elevator carries water (H2O) from the roots to the leaf. At the same time, the leaf (stomata) absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere where the workers transport it to a pot. The heat breaks it up to the hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

Other workers bring the hydrogen (H) to mix with the carbon (C) in the furnace. This produces the glucose (C6H12O6) or starch. The remaining oxygen (O2) is thrown out as waste through the stomata. Humans and animals benefit as they breathe it in the atmosphere. Finally, the glucose is carried by the small elevator to the other parts of the plant. The excess glucose is converted to starch and stored in the roots and seeds for future use.

Fable of the Great River

The Fable of the Great River is another impressionistic picture chart which symbolizes the human body. The narration of the river with several buildings around says: “There was once a great river in a large nation. The citizens here work 24 hours daily. None can stop working for it will mean the death of the nation. On both banks of the river are several departments: the Department of Transport, of Defense, of Sanitation, of Production, of Nutrition and at the head of the river is the City Hall where the national leader sends messages regularly to different ministries.”

The Great River represents the Circulatory System and the Nation the Human Body. The inhabitants are the different body cells. The cells form the tissues, the tissues make up each organ, related organs make up the Skeletal and Muscular Systems, while the Nervous System communicates messages from the head and the brain. The mouth, esophagus, large intestines, pancreas, liver and spleen make up the Digestive System. On this basis the child can comprehend better health care. Local textbooks chopped the Human Body lesson into separate systems per grade level whereas the above Great River lesson begins with the fable and goes into details of each system in Grade IV alone.

The fable clearly symbolizes that a well managed country make up a strong nation since all the departments run professionally to serve the citizens. But unless the citizens are healthy and educated properly the nation can never be great.

Human body system works as well in both animals and plants

In the Philippines, unlike in Europe, the study of Botany and Zoology is taken up only in the tertiary level. These are exciting and most useful lessons young children can easily learn and become an advantage in the future for various occupations including farming, fishing and various food industrial workers. Ignorance of this has made our farmers and fishermen poor.

Botany and Zoology are introduced as early as preschool in the Pulung Bulu pilot school. A collection of picture cards of Asian birds, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and mammals are used. By primary grades the external parts of the body are identified. A turtle has a carapace shell cover while plastron protects the bottom. Its tail is hidden here. The internal parts (brains, skeleton, lungs and heart) of different vertebrates are compared in chart form for the upper grades.  The EFA DAKAR students also enjoy the picture taxonomy charts of vertebrates and invertebrates learned only in tertiary level in our country.

Unity in multicultural diversity

The right curriculum for K-12 will allow the students to recognize the multicultural diversity of the world and especially the Asia-Pacific region. The various customs, cuisines, fashion and religions can be appreciated beyond the classrooms through television programs of National Geographic, Living Asia and Animal World. The Cosmic Science will make them realize how our neighbors are economically powered by their excellent conservation of the biosphere.

Education should do away with watertight compartments of subjects since learning requires the integration of various concepts of history, geography, human science, etc. Like flesh and blood, these cannot be separated from one another to give life to mankind.

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