Today marks the United Nations International Day of Peace. Maria Montessori was a vocal advocate for peace. For this work, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. She began lecturing on this topic after she left Italy when Mussolini came into power. In a time of great geopolitical instability, she proposed that education was the only way to heal and help society stay out of war. She truly believed that children were the future and had that thought foremost in her mind when she was developing the Montessori pedagogy. She spoke on the topic many times and those lectures are compiled into a book: Education and Peace. She speaks of the importance of education in the quest for world peace:
What is the task confronting education? It is above all the task of mending breaches, filling in gaps that are vast and serious. Its primary goals must be the realization of the values of the human personality and the development of mankind.
Anyone who sets these two goals for himself might be inclined to believe that mankind’s progress depends on the formation of a peace-loving human personality and that the sum total of individuals educated with such goals in mind would be a peaceful society by that very fact alone.
The Montessori pedagogy, at its core, believes in showing respect for all living things. We respect the child as a person and listen to their needs and desires. We communicate with the children and teach them to communicate with us and other people in a kind and respectful way- even when they disagree. We respect nature including the animals and plants with which we come into contact. This respect becomes a part of the child’s being that will remain as they grow to adulthood. This mentality allows people to embrace differences, listen without judgement, communicate effectively- the attributes that promote peaceful relations.
PEACE AT MPS
So, what does this look like? You may have heard your child talk about the ‘peace rose’ or ‘listening to a person’s words’. At all stages of development we are working toward more self-control and respectful communication. The pre-primary class is working on identifying feelings and using the appropriate words to communicate those feelings. The teachers are giving the children many words, so that they can begin to understand and vocalize their feelings as they grow in this class. They are also learning how to control their emotions. As children continue on to the primary class, they have better self-control and more of an emotional vocabulary. The teachers can begin to step back and allow children to solve disputes on their own. Children will be able to identify when they need a break in the ‘peace corner’ to cool down. In lower elementary, children have more of an awareness of how they fit into society. They are learning more about other cultures and our place as humans in the history of the universe. They really begin to care about justice and doing the right thing. These sentiments grow in upper elementary and middle school, so they begin to do service projects to feed the desire to help and make a difference in the world.
At Mountain Pathways, we are continuing Maria Montessori’s work in educating for peace. We believe that if children develop this respect for themselves and all living things at a young age, they will carry that with them into adulthood.
Please click here for more information on the UN International Day of Peace: http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/