New School Montessori (6-9) students are working with hands-on materials, which is an important tenet of a Montessori education. First-hand experience allows each child the thrill of discovery. When a child gets to have his own “aha” moment — it sticks.
Montessori’s Long Black Strip lesson gives learners perspective on how recently (in Earth’s timeline) humans have entered the scene; in an instant, our brief time on Earth is clearly visible. In the original lesson, Dr. Montessori spread 328 yards (3 football fields) of black fabric down a very long street. That expanse of black fabric represented the number of years since Earth’s creation. On the tip of that unspooled fabric was a single colored strip of fabric that represented the number of years humans have lived on Earth.
A century later and this lesson still inspires Wows! Amazings! And Oh my goodnesses! What a much-needed lesson in humility for us all.
(This lesson is still given by Montessori teachers today, however the length of the black strip has often been shortened due to practical issues of storage and size of school grounds.)
Ann Baumgardner, Communications Director