What is Montessori Peace Education?
The world is a big, diverse, and constantly changing place. How can we create a community of kindness and empathy that children can bring with them wherever they go? How do they learn to peacefully lead the way as adults?
We want the children to have a diverse view of the world because this will allow them to better understand those who are different from them.
What is Peace Education?
First-time Montessori parents often wonder how Montessori children are busy but focused when they can choose their own activities and move about the room freely. It is due to peace education! Peace education is the process of learning values, knowledge, skills, and attitudes to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment.
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori
How do we teach these critical skills?
1) Grace and Courtesy Lessons
These lessons are a proactive way for students to cultivate respect for themselves, their peers, and their environment. Teachers show the children how to walk around a work rug to avoid disturbing someone else's workspace. The children learn to tuck in their chairs so that their peers may have clear walkways. They cross their legs when sitting on the ground to avoid tripping their friends. Through daily practice in their classroom environment, respect becomes a habit. Every classroom is unique and these lessons are an ongoing and collaborative aspect of the curriculum that sparks a culture of responsibility, tolerance, and harmony.
2) Conflict Resolution in the Classroom
Conflict resolution is practiced in many different ways in the Montessori classroom. One example of effective conflict resolution is the use of a "peace table". During a conflict, children involved in the conflict sit at the designated "peace table", facing one another and listen to what each student has to say. The children do not interrupt one another, share their feelings, and understand that it is okay to have different opinions. Through processes like this, children discover tools to navigate their responses in frustrating or difficult circumstances.
3) Teaching a Global Perspective
Even from pre-school, Montessori children are taught geography with the perspective of the whole world. They learn about all the continents and biomes of the natural world. As they grow older, the children learn about ancient and current cultures. At Arborland, our International Culture Day event gives students the opportunity to dive deep into a different country each year to learn how others live, eat, travel, and express themselves. Arborland students get a printed "passport" and share what they learned about their countries with each other.
4) Giving to the Community
Acts of charity are also encouraged at a young age. In pre-school, the children's community is their classroom. Together they take care of the classroom pet, clean up at the end of the day, and help each other. In elementary, their community is the school. They get the opportunity to help out the younger students in the school. In junior high, their community is external. They are able to come up with their own ideas on how to give back and benefit a cause they personally believe in. From donation drives to Valentine's grams, Arborland's junior high students have a course specifically dedicated to this type of Service Learning. Arborland supports the children's dream with logistics and they learn to contribute to others besides themselves.
5) Being a Good Role Model!
Through our actions, our words, and even our tone of voice, children learn as they watch our everyday actions. Montessori teachers and parents take it upon themselves to show compassion, forgiveness, and understanding when talking to others.
Peace is innate to the functioning of Montessori classrooms, but lessons are also taught directly. When peace education is successful, the children thrive not only in the Montessori classroom but also when they take their place in the world as leaders in the future.