Humankind from inception has been unable to fuse men peaceably. After two world wars, thousands of civil wars, gender oppression and slavery, the subject of peace has continued to be a worldwide debate and source of concern to all despite arbitrary organizations and peace treaty movements. Till date, some countries launch stray missiles at others while some work tirelessly to store nuclear weapons for unpredicted wars, women deal with oppressions from traditional, religious and cultural myths that relegate them to the background, different races fight for superiority, and families tear each other apart for purpose of wealth. Man, obviously has not understood the road to world peace.
Dr Maria Montessori realized that to achieve peace we must shift our focus from adults to children and educate them to live in harmony with each other. Only then can we ensure lasting peace in the generations to come. She believed that by nature, children hold no ill will and if allowed to follow their inner guides, they will be more inclined to show love, acceptance and understanding.
“Preventing conflicts is the work of politics, establishing peace is the work of education”
Dr Maria Montessori.
Maria Montessori therefore incorporated lessons in coexisting peacefully into every part of the Montessori experience. The “Peace curriculum” is instilled into the core Montessori curriculum so that while the children are building practical skills that enable that achieve success as an adult, they are simultaneously developing social skills that allow them to interact with people and their environment in a way the promotes peace.
From toddler age, children in Montessori schools are taught how to interact with one another, wait patiently for their turns to use materials, tuck in their chairs when they get off from it or return materials to the designated locations and learning to speak to one another in soft quiet voices and respectful manners because even as an adult, it is very difficult to accept information when you are being shouted at.
Giving children opportunity to role-play social skills, and reflect upon unconventional attitudes gives them a sense of self-awareness, respect, love and responsibility, not only to themselves but to everyone they come across in the society. A child knows that if he speaks too loudly or doesn’t return his materials, he is disrupting the aura of peace for everyone and he takes it upon himself to ensure that his classmates feel comfortable.
The community lifestyle that exist in the classroom allows the children to show love and empathy to each other, care for their materials and environment, optimized true support in synergized work and display profound leadership.
In situations where a child gets out of line and disrupts the class or hurts his classmates, the teacher is quick to intervene and addresses the issue in a quiet voice about what he has done whilst still respecting the child’s feelings and listening to what he has to say. This way he still feels heard, respected, he understands his actions, feels empathy for the people he’s hurt and makes amends of his own volition.
Eventually, as the children grow, they become independent and handle disputes on their own. Individually or as groups, they learn to communicate their feelings and resolve their differences in a respectful manner. Admittedly, this is a trait that most adults find almost impossible to accomplish.
Another aspect of the Montessori peace curriculum that helps build their self-esteem and dignity is “Grace and courtesy”. Here they learn appropriate behaviors like how to say, “Please” and “Thank you”, how to accept and receive gifts from one another, how to communicate in difficult situations without being rude, how to politely interrupt someone and even how to wash their hands and blow their nose, awarding them a sense of dignity and an improved feeling of independence.
Children are the redeeming hope of civilization and in the Montessori classroom or under a Montessori parenting system, they are taught to understand their relationship with the rest of humankind and the universe, they understand that they have a vital role to play in ensuring the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all that exist in the world.
However, it doesn’t stop there, parents also need to model these ideals for the children to adopt them. It’s not just about raising successful children; we should also focus on raising genuinely good-hearted human beings. As a parent, you must examine your actions and model the change you want in the world so that your children can emulate it and be that change that finally leads to world peace.