Finding Our Place in the World

Maura Joyce, Head of School

an elementary student works with a pin map

Maria Montessori was very concerned about the world in which she lived. She lived through two world wars and watched people become more and more disconnected to each other and the earth. When deciding what to bring to children during their development and education, she put great emphasis on orienting them to the world around them. Starting with the youngest children, she created environments that had a strong order to them. Activities were color-coded, complete, and in sequence so that from the very beginning, the child could find their way around the classroom and the materials to build a strong internal compass.

When she designed sensorial materials, she looked for ways that children would practice the discrimination of size and shape. Rather than just using blocks, Montessori designed puzzle maps of the world. If students can identify the shape of a circle and a square, why not the shape of North America and Asia? Montessori used the child’s great capacity for language acquisition and gave them the names of all the continents and countries. Post Oak Primary classrooms have a plethora of map work going on. As they learn the places on the globe, they are then presented the different flora, fauna, and cultures. As children grow, so does their appreciation for geography—both physical and cultural.

In Elementary, the students’ work in geography expands into the sciences of the physical world—biology, chemistry, physics, meteorology, geology, which is then explored in depth in Middle and High School classes. Their research extends beyond the walls of the classroom into the Houston Museum District, the tri-county area, the United States, and oversees, through international travel opportunities for our adolescents. This year, high school student groups will travel to Spain, London, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and China.

All this work has a purpose. First and foremost, it is to orient the growing human person to their world around them and their community of family and friends. Additionally, and more importantly, Post Oak students build a strong appreciation for the environment and different cultures. It is also a tremendous amount of fun to engage in this work, which leads to a love of our big blue marble and the remarkable people who inhabit it.

As we move into the Thanksgiving weekend, I feel grateful for the experiences all the Post Oak students are afforded. I am grateful for the community we build here and the hope that radiates out of each child and young adult we serve.

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