Big History in Montessori Adolescent Programs



Kyle Herman

Levels: Elem & Sec, ages 6-18

Available Now!  2 PD Hours

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How does Big History fit into a “Deep Time Learning Spiral” that starts in early childhood and spirals up through the secondary level and beyond?  This presentation explores the purpose of Cosmic Education in Montessori philosophy and shows how Big History can be used at the secondary level to promote the same ecological, humanitarian, and spiritual outcomes as the Cosmic Curriculum does in elementary.   The lecture webcast discusses philosophy and practice.  Philosopher covers the importance of Cosmic Ed and Big History in the overarching goal of furthering the development of a new humanity.

From Big History to Big Future

By studying our Origin Story, we are better able to take on our Cosmic Task as a species, and as individuals and groups.  Through the Big History thresholds, we see how each new threshold emerges as new and surprising partnerships come about that open the way to higher levels of complexity that never existed before.  Is a new threshold emerging in our midst today?  By studying a grand narrative of the universe we see the patterns of transformation.  And that can propel us today toward greater cooperation, not only with other humans but with our whole planet, opening the possibility of a new threshold in the evolution of our precious planet.

You will learn about

  •  Transdisciplinary and transformative purposes of education
  •  Key experiences
  •  How Cosmic Education naturally leads into Big History
  •  How to meet graduation requirements AND inspire students with Big History
  •  How Cosmic Education, Big History, and the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme flow together
  •  Combining manual and intellectual work at the secondary level
  •  Aligning the Cosmic Education Great Stories with the Big History Thresholds and the Required Sequence
  •  How Big History prompts spiritual questions that can be discussed in the classroom
  •  How Big History nurtures optimism about the future

Student Interviews

In a short 12-minute video students answer these questions:

  1. How has Big History’s transdisciplinary approach affected your learning?
  2. Have you been able to reconcile the scientific claims of Big History with your own spiritual or religious beliefs?
  3. How has Big History affected your view of humanity and its place in the universe? (5:19;23)
  4. What is the meaning of our modern origin story?
  5. Does Big History offer any direction for the future of our species?



Kyle Herman has been a Montessori teacher and academic advisor in an adolescent program for 11 years. He earned his NAMTA certification for Adolescent Studies in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University in English with a concentration in Writing and a double minor in Philosophy and History.  “Deep Time Education,” Kyle says,  “is important because it helps students both broaden and deepen their understanding of who they are, how they came to be, what they’re a part of, and why they are here.”

See numerous articles by Kyle Herman by clicking on resources on his profile.  Here’s the link to his profile:

Reviews (2)

2 reviews for Big History in Montessori Adolescent Programs

  1. Kyle (verified owner)

    LOVED it. I still feel like I am absorbing everything though it is clear Kyle’s use of Big History as a framework for the HS curriculum is powerful, strong, and effective. The second half provided the biggest take-aways for me. So many great things included. He had great quotes and visuals and made connections with Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme effectively too. Well done!
    The additional video of the students was equally wonderful (always love hearing the students; out of the mouth of babes.) Whahoo!

    — Ann Sutton and Dr. Betsy Coe, Houston Montessori Center, Houston, Texas (US)

  2. Kyle (verified owner)

    Bravo! Very thoroughly covered, Kyle! As I took notes, my questions would generally be answered! What strikes me about what we do in Montessori secondary education is the trans-disciplinary, interwoven nature of everything we do and how important it is to be patient with our own transformation and spirituality as teachers. This is so hard to teach to teachers new to Montessori. I am reminded about the activities in Project Astro, a class I took years ago at the Cincinnati Observatory. Many activities are fine “add-ons” in a class, such as the “Your Cosmic Address” exercise – similar to the “You Are Here” activity you do. What’s missing (and that this type approach offers) is the connection to field experiences and humanity and mathematics and wonder. I’m so glad you mentioned Carl Sagan. I think he’s a modern scientist who “got it”. Maybe Neil de Grasse Tyson does, too. But Sagan was the first to bring science to me in a way that I wasn’t afraid of it. His Cosmos series told me that I was science and spiritual that it was all the same. I’d love to know how one of your courses uses BH material, and the other materials you use. I’m sorry I won’t be able to be live for the Q&A, but I’ll watch later. Thanks for this presentation!!

    Barb Scholtz, CMStep, Cincinnati, Ohio (US)

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