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Montessori and Peace

Montessori and Peace

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Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of educators.
–Maria Montessori

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An interesting fact about Dr. Maria Montessori is that she lived through two wars. She was living in Italy at the beginning Mussolini’s reign. In 1924 Maria met with Mussolini, and he agreed that the Italian government should support Montessori schools, however, he closed all Montessori schools in 1931 because teachers would not pledge loyalty to Fascism. At that time Montessori relocated to Spain. In 1932, while in Spain, she wrote the book, Peace and Education. Montessori and Peace: Peace education is one of the basic tenets of Maria Montessori. Her vision and goal was the reconstruction of society and the establishment of world peace through education. Montessori classrooms contain puzzle maps of the world and continent maps with political boundaries. Families are invited to share their traditions and customs with the classroom. Children study the basic needs of people:  food, shelter, clothing, transportation, etc. Children learn that all humans require similar things  and depending on the biome of the area in which they live, these things may change. In Twin Parks Montessori School classrooms, our social skills curriculum teaches children to use their words with each other when conflict arises. Learning how to negotiate, compromise, share a point of view, collaborate and problem solve helps to develop skills necessary to be a global human being.

 If we are to teach real peace in this world. . .we shall have to begin with the children.
– Mahatma Gandhi

Visitors to a Montessori classroom observe the quiet “hum” of a group of children working. Visitors remark on the peaceful, relaxed and happy children. It doesn’t happen magically. Montessori schools operate under an umbrella of respect for:  teachers, materials and each other. They learn to watch, wait, delay gratification, how to walk around someone’s work as to not disturb it, and how to interrupt politely. Montessorians call these lessons Grace and Courtesy. Using these lessons Montessori teachers are able to teach children to be proactive rather than reactive. Children practice respectful communications and they are given tools to respond to others. Angeline Lillard, in her book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, wrote that the lessons of Grace and Courtesy “are on a par with lessons in math, music, and language.” (2007, 198-99) There are no physical material on the shelf to remind us of the importance of Grace and Courtesy; these activities cannot be seen, but they mustn’t be forgotten. These lessons frame the foundation of peace education in Montessori classrooms. Just as in Maria Montessori’s life in 1930s and now in the 21st Century, we need to teach children to be respectful and peaceful, which is something we at Twin Parks Montessori Schools pride ourselves on.

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If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.
– Maria Montessori

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