The Long Back Line (Strip)
History of the Work
Montessori was in India in June, 1939, at the beginning of W.W.II.
Mr. Arundel, President of World Theosophical Society invited her to give her lectures in Madras. There were several children to demonstrate her work.
One of the children told Dr. Montessori that there was nothing that he and India could learn from someone in the West. After all, the oldest real civilization was in India 10,000 years ago. Egypt was 3.5 thousand years ago. Babylon and Assyria were 5,000 years ago.
The Indian civilization was actually 9,000 years old, but she said she would make it 10,000 to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Later she asked a printer to make a strip of cloth 300 meters long and 50 cm. wide. 299.99 were in black and 0.01 meters were in white.
When the roll was ready, she had it brought to the school and said “Now, I’m ready for something”.
She had 2 teachers on bicycles unroll the whole thing along the street. They started with all black and finally came to the little piece of white.
The children asked what it was. Montessori said it was the history of the earth since it was created.
The children asked if it was of one color. Montessori answered. No. It changed to white when the history of humans began.
Now we make this as a 30 meter ribbon. It is still a lesson of humility. We could make it longer today to represent 4-5 billion years.
1. Don’t give the child the measurement of the strip. The demonstration is meant to be impressionistic and to pique an emotional response.
2. The colors should be opposing
3. The white dates form the first real appearance of civilization on the Indus River.
…30 meters of ribbon
……29.999 m. in black
……0.001 m. in white
………1 centimeter = 1,000,000 years
………10 meters represent 1,000,000,000 years
………30 meters represents 3,000,000,000 years, the average accepted length of earth’s
………history (in 1939). Now we know it is approximately 4.6 billion years.
Remember the Dance of the Elements in our Creation Story? That was such a long, long time ago. (begin unrolling strip)
In the beginning we said that everything was dark, there were whirling gasses which gradually cooled and how long this process took.
It took thousands of years.
And then the rains came and filled in the hollows, the air was cleared up and the seas were formed.
Now the Earth was like a shriveled up apple.
There was no life on Earth.
At sometime, somewhere, a long long time ago, life began.
It began to fill the seas and after thousands of years, it began to climb out of the water onto the land.
(keep looking at how long it was, referring back to the strip)
Insects developed and large dinosaurs.
The insects have made a contract with the flowers and the earth is covered with grass…
There are flowers in her hair… and pure water is crystal clear…
Watch what is coming! How long it has taken!
What is it? A white line. What does it mean?
This is humanity – all humans. Hold it in your hands… this is all of history: cave people, Egyptians, Greeks… all here. How long it took for the earth to prepare itself.
A long time passed, while the animals developed and the plants prepared for Humans to come to this Earth!!