Thomas Berry turned me on to this great book, To Educate the Human Potential, by Maria Montessori, which he discoverd after he had written about education and the universe. Berry used to say with a laugh, ‘Everything I’ve been saying about cosmology and education, she said in the 1940s.’
"Let us give [the child] a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
How can we force the child to be interested when interest can only arise from within? It is only duty and fatigue which can be induced from without, never interest! That point must be very clear.
If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying. The child’s mind then will no longer wander, but becomes fixed and can work. The knowledge he then acquires is organised and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him, and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centred. The stars, earth, stones, life of all kinds form a whole in relation with each other, and so close is this relation that we cannot understand a stone without some understanding of the great sun! No matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe.
–Maria Montesorri, "The Six-Year-Old Confronted with the Cosmic Plan," chapter one in To Educate the Human Potential (1948)