The Fourth Great Lesson: The History of Writing


The Great Lessons are presented in a specific order, every year, so that children may experience these large concepts over and over again, thus solidifying the big picture stories they convey, as well as inspiring curiosity and a sense of wonder at the beginning of the school year. Before learning about the advent of written language, Lower Elementary children are introduced to the Coming of the Universe and Earth (1), the Coming of Life (2), and the Coming of Human Beings (3). Today, we peek in on Lower Elementary Directress Anna Schwind, as she gives the Fourth Great Lesson: The Story of Writing (also referred to as Communication in Signs). 



She begins with a review of the first three Great Lessons by prompting the children. They each contribute the big picture knowledge they have been thinking about, discussing, and studying over the past month of school. It is touching to hear the children discuss the three gifts that make humans special: a mind to imagine, a hand to do work, and a heart that can love. There is a gentleness to this discussion that conveys a deeper understanding of humanity.


As with every Great Lesson, children are eager to contribute their recollections of what they have learned thus far.


Anna animatedly shares the very first means of communication. Above, she expresses how there was a need for humans to communicate in ways other than through spoken word. The story of the advent of the written alphabet is told, with an emphasis on the incredible ability that humans have of committing their thoughts to paper.

This lesson leads to the study of languages, alphabets, bookmaking, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, word study, figures of speech, reading, myths and folk tales, literary terms, writing, research, and so much more! It is indeed a Great Lesson!


Also notable: Anna produces a papyrus plant, which is associated with Egypt and early paper making. It is a fascinating plant, as its stem is a great example of a triangular prism found in nature.


The history of written language is a complex one. During the fourth Great Lesson, the Directress introduces pictographs, ideograms, hieroglyphics, the Phoenicians, the Greek alphabet, and Latin.


To further engage children after the Great Lesson, books are introduced. The children gathered round afterwards to look up the history and details of the first letters of their names.


As with all the Great Lessons, this was used to be a springboard rather than the focus or endpoint. Each lesson is meant to inspire curiosity and interest. Clearly, this one did!