Rock Prairie Montessori School
Peace Education Position Statements
Peace Education in the Toddlers House
“This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.” Maria Montessori (The Absorbent Mind, p. 15) Children learn what they live. In order to educate for peace our Montessori environments and curricula are designed to support children in becoming peaceful members of their communities. Peace education guides children toward developing the self-awareness, empathy, collaborative spirit, kindness, curiosity, respect and sense of justice that is required to live in harmony with others. Peaceful Connection with the Self:
- Noticing and naming feelings.
- Choosing a quiet space.
- Seeking comfort.
- Regulating emotions.
- Managing impulses.
- Finding meaningful work.
- Focusing attention.
- Exploring the world through the five senses.
- Feeling wonder.
- Taking deep breaths.
- Walking the labyrinth.
- Being safe.
Peaceful Connection with Others:
- Greeting teachers and friends.
- Expressing concern for others.
- Waiting for a turn.
- Respecting the rights of others.
- Being kind.
- Using gentle touches.
- Using words to say “No.”
- Arranging flowers for the snack table.
- Giving flower arrangements to the office staff.
- Greeting and engaging with visitors.
- Offering help.
- Joining a friend to work and play.
- Preparing snack for others.
- Baking bread for everyone to share. Peaceful Connection with the Environment:
- Sensorial experiences with nature.
- Caring for plants.
- Caring for classroom pets.
- Caring for songbirds.
- Planting seeds and tending the garden.
- Arranging flowers.
- Returning work to its place.
- Cleaning the environment.
- Treating materials gently.
Peace Education in Children’s House
Position statement: Peace curriculum is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum designed to help each child reach their full potential as a positive contributor to our society. The curriculum is designed to be non-religious and non-culture specific – rather to focus on the inner well-being of the child (his/her spiritual health).Guiding principles: Inner well-being (spiritual health) develops from six basic areas. To aid the child in their development, these are addressed through the curriculum:
- Awareness of community and one’s impact on it (grace & courtesy, problem solving, conflict resolution)
- Connecting with ourselves and others with compassion and love (modeling a culture of love and compassion)
- Understanding that all humans have basic needs and rights (everyone eats, plays, sleeps, wants to learn)
- Awareness of self (breathing, yoga stretches, sensorial work, emotion naming)
- Awareness of cultures (our own and others, geography studies)
- Awareness/Appreciation for our environment (wonder and awe for all that surrounds us;science studies)
- In the Classroom: The peace curriculum – like most curriculum in a Montessori environment is interwoven as activities can be found throughout the classroom/day that exercise these skills. Many areas of practical application in the classroom are listed above. Specific “peace” works include; making silence during line activities, having a quiet table where a child can use materials that encourage calmness, (zen sand garden, finger labyrinth, etc) using a peace token for reflective listening and conflict resolution, emotion work, introducing vocabulary of peace words, learning about peacemakers, thankful work, and yoga cards for control of body movement.
Peace Education in the Elementary Class
- “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.” Maria MontessoriPeace Education is an integral part of Montessori Education. Peace Education at RPMS is based on Maria Montessori’s work and writing, the implementation of an implicit (embedded in the curriculum) and explicit (clearly taught in its own class) peace curriculum and understanding a shared vocabulary of peace education.
- Montessori and Peace Education:Maria Montessori lived through two world wars and was exiled from her homeland during the second. Her writings repeatedly call for educating for peace. She argues for peace education in a series of speeches and conferences that were ultimately published as, Educazione e Pace(1949), translated in 1972 as, Education and Peace. She maintained that peace education was perhaps the only genuine means of eliminating war once and for all and values such as global citizenship, personal responsibility, and respect for diversity must be both an implicit and explicit part of every child’s education. These values are as critical as math, language and science. It is with her vision in mind that our peace curriculum is integrated within our classrooms and taught more distinctly in a special class for Extended Day and Elementary students. We believe this more completely honors Montessori’s vision of both implicit and explicit peace education.“The Science of Peace, were it to become a special discipline, would be the most noble of all, for the very life of humanity depends on it.”
- Maria Montessori : Peace Education in the Elementary Classroom Peace education is an implicit part of our classroom and curricula when we engage in the study of history and science of the natural world, the beliefs and traditions of diverse world cultures and to learn about ourselves within the world as contributing individuals. We study physical and political geography including plants, animals, biomes, landforms, waterways, countries capitals, as well as, geologic formations and time. We study languages, words, music, art and dance from countries and cultures from around the world. We look at and discuss the interconnectedness of people, plants, animals and their environments. We are always using, encouraging and discussing grace, courtesy, manners, mindfulness, problem-solving and working as a community. The students create a constitution in the beginning of the year to guide and support a peaceful and productive classroom environment. We have resources to encourage mindfulness and stillness in the room to use everyday, some of these are: a weighted blanket, yoga cards, a hand held labyrinth, peaceful places cards, a silence rug, and stories of conflict and resolution. Some of the explicit concepts taught in peace class are peace within, peace together and building a peaceful world. We cover the following ideas:
- brain anatomy and its function in senses, reactions and emotions
- circles of awareness: self, culture, community and environment
- listening, observing, helping
- gratitude, dignity, tolerance, empathy and compassion
- belonging, friendship, acceptance and love
- perspective taking
- nonviolent communication
- As with many things in Montessori, we seek to make the abstract concrete. Many of the concepts that have been discussed are very abstract and while children possess spirit, soul, wonder, love, compassion, empathy, feelings, and needs, as well as, the capacity for quiet, mindfulness, and self-control, these are difficult ideas for children to understand unless they are made more concrete. We do this through stories and activities that seek to make these ideas a sensorial experience rather than just a word. Some of activities we may use to make these ideas concrete include using a rock on your tummy to feel and see your breathing, drawing a picture of a feeling, imagining a peaceful place or action, making a yellow necklace that represents the love light inside us, or making a model of the brain out of clay. Roleplaying maybe be used when we are learning perspective taking to understand what a situation looks like from the point of view of others. We also use literature to illustrate an idea, like the “Giving Tree,” to help explain generosity, “The Story of Black Elk and the Medicine Circle” to show that we have choices about what kind of paths we can take, or “Zen Shorts” to help understand what dealing with frustration can be like. Another way we seek to make the abstract concrete is recognizing and acknowledging when things have happened in the class or with each other. We write about other’s kindness by writing daily acts of kindness. We visualize and discuss how the class looks when everyone is focused. We learn how to use nonviolent communication by walking the path of peace. We attempt to teach peace within and peace together to build a peaceful world.
- Rock Prairie Montessori respects all choices of faith or non-faith. Sometimes children share their own stories about their families, faith or religious practices. We encourage respect for one another’s differences and similarities when we respectfully accept each child’s perspective. We encourage the children to wonder about the world and ask questions. We hope that this clarifies our position on Peace Education in Montessori. Our diverse and ever shrinking world is fraught with conflict and discord and we seek to teach emotional intelligence, tolerance, and responsibility and support children in developing confidence and resilience.
Vocabulary of Peace Education in a Montessori Class
- Spirit and spirituality have many meanings and understandings. Philosophies, religions, and individuals have struggled with the nuances of this concept. The one constant these words have are that, from the beginning of civilization, some form of spirituality has been inherent in every culture that is known. Merriam – Webster’s dictionary definition of spirit/spirituality is the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power, the inner nature of the person, comes most close to how we use the term.
- Soul is used to mean a persons ability to feel kindness and sympathy for others and to appreciate beauty and art. Aline Wolf in her book Nurturing the Spirit in a Non-Sectarian Classroom, states, “It is the essences of our humanity.”
- Nurturing the spirit is the concept that all humans are born with an inner nature or life force that allows humans to feel kindness, sympathy and to appreciate beauty. This spirit and soul must be encouraged, developed. Montessori believed we don’t have to create this spirituality,we need only to protect and feed it. “If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides and environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.” -Maria Montessori Peace and Education
- Cosmic Education means a comprehensive and holistic education wherein everything is included and the universe’s interconnectedness is explored. In Montessori’s book ‘To Educate the Human Potential’ Chapter 1, she says, “The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things” (Clio 1989 p 5 – 6) It is meant to inspire wonder and to illustrate human’s interconnectedness with the universe.
- Wonder is a feeling that is caused by something that is amazing, surprising or beautiful. It is this feeling that is, “nourished by opportunities to observe the intricate workings of nature.” (Nurturing the Spirit in a Non-Sectarian Classroom by Aline Wolf)
- Stillness is the uninterrupted quiet and calm that allows a child to reflect. Reflection is part of what we need to be self-regulating. Many works and activities in a prepared classroom encourage and cultivate stillness.
- Inner peace/love is the ability to love ourselves, if we cannot love ourselves we cannot love others. “A healthy self-love tells a child the they are worthy person, unique in the universe, with special attributes and talents to contribute to the world.”
- Love light is an expression of inner peace/love that radiates out to all and one’s soul shining outward.
- Heart Agreements are rules and guidelines to help us feel safe and connected in peace class.
- Mindfulness is the awareness on your thoughts and actions. It is another part what we need to be self-regulating. We guide children to be mindful in the way they conduct themselves in the classroom.
- Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.” from the Center on Nonviolent Communication founded by Marshall Rosenberg PhD. Children are taught to identify feelings and needs within themselves and others and then verbalize their feelings and needs to others and then respond to the feelings and needs express by others in order to resolve conflicts and live peaceably.
- Resources and Further Reading: “Nurturing the Spirit in Non-Sectarian Classrooms,” by Aline D. Wolf; “Honoring the Light of the Child” by Sonnie MacFarlane; “Compassionate Classroom” by Sura Heart; Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg – www.cnvc.orghttp://www.cnvc.org; “Montessori’s View of Cosmic Education” by Mary Hayse presented at the International Montessori Congress www.montessori-ami.org/congress/2005sydney/papermh.htmhttp://www.montessori-ami.org/congress/2005sydney/papermh.htm; Children’s Global Peace Project http://www.cgpp.org/http://www.cgpp.org/