Montessori recognized children as the redeeming factor in the evolution of humankind. In order to bring about a world of peace and tolerance, where war is an absurdity, it is important to focus and teach peace early. Having a peace curriculum in your Montessori classroom is a sure way to prepare your children to be peace-seekers. Dr. Montessori said “…we must gather together all the elements of the world and organize them into a science of peace.”
The essentials for peace education are inherent in every level of the Montessori curriculum.
- Ages 3-6: Continent and Peoples of the World studies provide a global view of life and humanity’s part in it.
- Ages 6-12: This is the age of reasoning, abstract thinking, and an imaginative state of mind. Students continue their study of Peoples of the World, learning about the Fundamental Needs of Humans. They learn that the fulfillment of these needs varies by not only historical time periods but also by geographic location. With emphasis placed on the family of humankind and the interrelationship of all life, Montessori students begin to realize that they are not separate from the rest of the world, but are an integral part of creating a harmonious world.
Montessori believed education was the most powerful and universal way through which to reconstruct society; a way to transition from war to peace. Therefore, it is necessary to think of education as peace, not education for peace. While the curriculum teaches about peace, it cannot by itself result in peace. As Montessori teachers, we realize that it is not enough to simply talk about peace. We must create an environment that will promote the development of peaceful individuals. We cannot create this peaceful environment if we ourselves are interacting negatively or competitively with others.
Children easily pick up on hypocrisy around them. The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” no longer is acceptable. It is necessary for Montessori teachers to look inward and take note of their own beliefs and values. If we teach peace in our classroom, we must strive for peace in our lives, in our home, and in our workplace. We are the models of peace. We are teaching and nourishing the peace keepers of the future.
As the Montessori teacher sets the framework for the understanding that all living creatures are important and interconnected, the next step is to encourage in each child the skill and ability to become the peacemaker. NAMC’s Cosmic Education and Peace curriculum, provides helpful lessons to guide the educator through this ongoing endeavor life activities.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Sunday, June 10, 2007.