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Creating a Place for Peace

 


“Find a time and place of solitude.
Look into the distance and into the future.
Visualize the tomorrow you are going to build;
and begin to build that tomorrow, today.”
Jonathan Lockwood Huie



As part of our Peace Curriculum that is incorporated into our monthly studies at MCS, this month each of the classes is engaged in a study of creating space for Peace as we prepare to celebrate International Peace Day on September 21st and in honor of Maria Montessori’s extensive work in the field of Peace Education. Studies show that a preventative curriculum that promotes communication, community and self-advocacy is more effective than a punishing approach to bullying in schools. Ours is a program that we expect will follow our students far beyond their structured educational experience. We hope for and assist children in the development of skills of peaceful conflict resolution, gaining respect for peers and incorporating communal advocacy, taking in to account the needs of a community and how one’s behavior affects another, and establishing a lifetime of self advocacy, self love and self respect.

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

Peace is a work rooted deeply in the approach in Montessori schools across the world and Maria Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three different occasions as her passion for Peace Education led her to spread its good word in various countries. Her legacy lives on as she is now widely recognized as an advocate for peace and her educational philosophy is practiced throughout the world.

“Peace is a goal that can only be attained through common accord, and the means to achieve this unity for peace are twofold: first, an immediate effort to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence—in other words, to prevent war—and second, a long-term effort to establish a lasting peace among men”
(Education and Peace, Montessori, 1949, p. 27).

Read more about Maria Montessori here.

Montessori education addresses Peace in a variety of ways, encouraging children to first develop inner peace. At its most basic level the Montessori method does this by honoring the individual interests, passions and ability of each child, giving children space to develop confidence with making mistakes as they explore and the courage to fix mistakes, and inspiring them to be part of a community. Because each student is recognized as an individual, you will find children working on a variety of activities at any given time. This gives children space and encouragement to accept that differences between humans exist at varying degrees.

Inner peace gives children the foundation for supporting peace within their classroom, school, social and family communities. Communities are an important aspect of the Montessori philosophy in that there is an emphasis on the whole person and learning to function within a community is essential to the success of human endeavor. A successful community is made up of a variety of different talents, strengths, skills and goals. As our students engage in peaceful conflict resolution, modeled by the adults in the community, they learn to function as many parts making up a whole. As they assist in the management of the environment, including caring for the physical space, taking on important leadership roles within the classroom, and engaging in group discussion about how to make change for the better, students practice life long skills of considering others and building functioning communities.

Some common Montessori terms/methods that directly and indirectly support Peace Education include:

-Cosmic Education is the child’s gradual discovery, throughout the whole of childhood, of the interrelatedness of all things on earth, in the past, in the present, and in the future.

-Intrinsic motivation (versus rewards or punishment) is a desire to do for the sake of doing with no expectation or even hope for an outside motivator.

-Multi age classrooms allow children to play varying roles throughout their cycle in a classroom, allowing investment in the environment and practice of various skills, jobs and identities.

-Follow the child means that each child is considered individually and opportunities to further develop special skills and talents is honored along with opportunity for extra, repetitive practice of more difficult tasks.

-Class meetings and agenda books allow children to bring up issues or concerns and decide, with adult guidance, how to overcome challenges as a group. It also allows a sacred place for celebrating one another’s accomplishments.

-Peace areas in each classroom provide a place for children to go when they need to find inner peace. Meditation, breathing and various other exercises are encouraged to help students look within.

-Outdoor education and care for living things (plants and animals throughout the school and in each classroom) give children the opportunity to practice care for and consideration of the needs of all living things and help them develop a love and advocacy for our earth and all it has to offer.


By honoring each individual and supporting children in becoming their most authentic, passionate, courageous and determined selves, we provide the world with a powerful force for change for the better.

May you all find inner peace and enjoy a most lovely day of celebrating the beauty and hope of mankind on this day set aside for celebrating Peace on earth.

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Spreading Peace

Last week our school community shared in the beautiful gift of celebrating peace as a community and as part of a world-wide event. Each member of our school, from the tiniest toddler to the tallest elementary student, joined together on the field to sing "Light a Candle for Peace."  Then, our elementary students sang "What a Wonderful World" and one of our elementary teachers, Christian, spoke to our students briefly about sharing compassion around the world.  He invited the students to imagine a mirror that allows them to look at themselves full of love and compassion, then invited them to turn that mirror and extend the same love to their friends, their family, their community, their city, their state, their country and, finally, to the entire world.  

As stewards over these each of these beautiful little humans, we take great joy and responsibility in the privilege and responsibility of teaching peace to the students of Montessori Community School. MCS teachers touch on many different aspects of peace throughout the year.  Our peace curriculum, written to create a culture of cooperation and compassion, acts much like the other subjects taught in a Montessori environment.  The following ideas are touched on year after year and at varying levels, depending on the development of the students and the make up of each classroom.

  • Creating a space for peace
  • Supporting peace
  • Acknowledging peace
  • Advocating for peace
  • Developing inner peace
  • Intentional acts of peace
  • Cultivating peace
  • Nurturing peace
  • Celebrating peace

Peace truly does begin within.  However, just like addition and history and penmanship, our children must be taught to develop and emanate peace.  We teach through lessons, we teach through experience, and we teach by example. 

May each of us be filled with intention to develop our own sense of inner peace and compassion and may we seek opportunity to spread compassion and light to our fellow man. May the love of our wonderful MCS students be given the respect and attention it deserves to grow and spread and make a sincere difference in the world.  



Two friends, one Toddler and one Early Childhood, gleefully meet on the playground and dance, providing great pre-program entertainment for the rest of us




These Aspens class students hold a sign that says "Peace" during the program. 




MCS students, toddler through elementary, gather together to sing "Light a Candle for Peace."




Younger students are paired with older student while they hold hands and walk around the campus to look at the peace flags made by their peers. 




This mother and son look at the peace flags during the peace walk.




An Upper Elementary student signs "Peace.




Upper Elementary teacher, Christian, talks to the students about self compassion and sharing compassion with the greater community.




Peace flags are decorated by MCS students and staff and then hung along the Outdoor Classroom fence. 



Peace in any language. 
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