February 10, 2023
It’s not often that people talk about “Economic Geography” and even when thinking about it as adults; it is a difficult subject to understand and wrap your head around. A major theme of Montessori education is the relationships of interdependence that we all have in the world. As part of the Lower Elementary’s interclass lesson, we touched on the topic of Economic Geography and some of the ideas that it entails. The Lower Elementary team felt this was an appropriate lesson as it helps to identify, promote, and respect the diversity within all people and things, and how important they are to everyone’s daily life! After the lesson, the goal is for students to realize that “Everything is special, important, and contributes parts to a system.”
As this is a complicated subject the Lower Elementary team uses a fun and interactive lesson called “The Story of Bread.” The students were presented with the many steps that it takes, and all of the things that need to go correctly, for them to make a single piece of toast for breakfast. Each student represented a role/job that goes into making bread (Ie: Farmer, Miller, Baker, Shopkeeper, Transporter) while also holding a piece of yarn as we went through the process. This yarn created a “spider web of interconnectedness” that demonstrated the importance of each role in the process, and how many roles it takes to get a basic thing like a piece of toast!
We saw that when everything is working correctly, we have toast for breakfast. We also saw how a wheat shortage would affect getting our toast, or if the baker’s oven broke how the transportation and shopkeepers will be affected in the next step. Students created their own posters with a “spiderweb” of the jobs/roles that influence the process of making Guacamole. South America is the highlighted continent for our international festival in the spring, and we felt guacamole is a great connection to some of the Latin American countries that we will be studying.
The students researched a recipe that they would use to make Guacamole, and went through the processes that would need to be in place in order for us to get the ingredients at the store. Many of the ingredients that they found originate from South America and have several stops along the way to get to our local market. This activity connected the research that the students have been doing in South America, and how we use those items and products in Massachusetts from the very same countries.
As educators, it is important to convey the idea to children of the interdependence of the world. This does not only involve economic means, but also socially, geographically and biologically. We want them to know that most things that surround them on a daily basis came about through means of cooperation between people and things in our world. It is important to appreciate and acknowledge the different roles that people play to make our daily lives possible and how we fit into the puzzle ourselves!