“Peace is what every human being is craving for. And it can be brought about by humanity through the child”
– Maria Montessori
A tireless advocate of peace through education and a two time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize (1949 and 1950), Maria Montessori’s teachings of peace are actively taught at Montessori schools all over the world. It gives us great pride to be part of her greatest aspiration; create a better world by nurturing the spiritual growth of children.
This year, the United Nations theme “Climate Action for Peace”, implores us to bring peace by combatting climate change. Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Millions are forced to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere as a result of natural disasters which displace three times as many people as conflicts. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent. In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the United Nations calls upon all to take action to tackle climate change. Every human is part of the solution – from turning off the lights to taking public transport, to organizing an awareness raising campaign in your community.
That is exactly what our Middle School students did! They visited the Elementary and Primary campuses to share their urgent plea to us through a well composed song– take action on climate change by planting trees. Their efforts were lauded, for in two weeks they wrote the lyrics, wrote the music and recorded their song. The audience of younger students and staff was completely riveted at the polished nature of the finished performance and their genuine emotion heard through their song lyrics. This is a celebration of the level of consciousness and mindfulness these students display about their civic duties. They also banded together with some parent support to plant an orange tree at the Palm Lane campus. Their recorded product will be available for viewing through the school’s You Tube channel. An email will be sent out to all current families next week.
At the elementary campus, the morning started by all the students and staff acknowledging that while it was a special day, peace is a commitment to every moment of our life. Yes, we are all on the road to growth but we embrace the importance of striving for peaceful interactions with one another. The morning assembly concluded with our daily Earth pledge which pledges allegiance to the Earth, other species and the promise to work towards dignity and peace amongst the entire human family. In class, the teachers and students talked about Maria Montessori’s contribution to peace education and ways in which each member of the class community can practice being peaceful every day. Lower Elementary students painted their own Peace Rocks to add to the Peace garden being developed. Upper Elementary East students made friendship bracelets and picked up trash in their larger community. At the primary campus, each class community gathered to read a book that stated the message of peace, shared ways they can be peaceful to one another, and talked about ways their love light can be brightened. They gathered outdoors, at the peace pole, to release oodles of peace all around the world!
We all can be part of the solution by taking small steps daily, even though we live in a relatively peaceful society. The impact of technology and gaming products that encourage the use of violence to solve problems is being felt daily at schools, in the classroom and on the playground. More and more students are seen talking about violence through video games, using gestures, and engaging in physical ways of handling problems. While most of their conflicts may be developmentally appropriate, the way they are being solved is not. The foremost way is to seek peaceful resolution to inter-personal conflicts or conflicts around us. Montessori schools are the only educational institutions that, from a very young age, have the peace curriculum integrated and woven into the classroom all the time. During their time at Khalsa, our students don’t directly realize what a gift they have been given through their daily work of peaceful conflict resolution with other students. When alumni have revisited to share about their middle school and high school experiences, they remark at how adept a Montessori student is at negotiating peer conflict to arrive at win-win solutions.
What is unparalleled about Montessori education is its emphasis on providing daily experiences that nurture the spirit along with cognitive growth. From cultivating a sense of wonder about the cosmos and seeing the interdependence of humans with other species & Earth to recognizing and appreciating kind deeds, demonstrating empathy and resolving inter-personal conflicts, students learn to embody respect for self, others and the environment. Students become progressively adept at using the tools and techniques modeled by older peers and adults to become more peaceful. The hallmarks of a collaborative community are members who have peace within, work for peace without and celebrate each member’s uniqueness.