Written by Jody Ellis, Assistant Head of School and Director of Programs
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education, all politics can do is keep us out of war.” Maria Montessori and Peace Education
Today, September 21st, is the International Day of Peace. It’s a big day for Montessori schools because of Maria Montessori’s commitment and contributions to peace education. In her writings and speeches, Dr. Montessori made an explicit connection between education and peace. She passionately argued (perhaps most notably before the United Nations) that education was a means – perhaps the only genuine means – of eliminating war for once and for all. Without intentional education about peace, she believed, humans would always revert to their habit of conflict.
As Montessori teachers, we realize that is is not enough to simply talk about peace. We must create an environment that will promote the development of peaceful individuals. This means we must model and intentionally teach how to make peace. Our classrooms have a peace corner or a peace table, at which two students can go to resolve a conflict or a single child can go to calm down and feel peaceful.
One strategy we use is the peace rose. Children learn to take turns holding the peace rose while speaking about how they feel. They stay at the peace table until they have heard each other and resolved their conflict. With very young children, the adults will coach the children with words they can use. Older students can do this independently. At the elementary level, when the imagination takes off and social groups become very important, students enjoy role playing and solving problems in small groups.
Duckworth, C. (2006). Teaching Peace: A Dialogue on Maria Montessori
Zerfas, Kimberly, Peace Education in the Montessori Classroom