Northwoods Montessori’s stated purpose is “to provide a foundation for life-long learning which enhances personal integration and an understanding of interdependence.” Understanding the self and understanding how to collaborate are important to a peaceful community, most will agree, but how does this happen? What does it mean to Educate for Peace?
Northwoods’ Annual Peace Celebration is coming up, January 27. We will honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other peacemakers. Apart from Graduation, it is our only formal all-school gathering, emphasizing its importance to us.
Here are some illustrations, first from our Parent/Child Open House last Friday, then from around campus in the Primary and Elementary programs to help explain:
At the Parent/Child Open House, there is Peace in taking the time to follow the child, to see and feel her excitement in learning, for example, the sounds that make up words.
A parent is patiently participates with her child at the Parent/Child Open House. He has chosen to finish a geometric construction with colored pencils.
A parent finds a peaceful moment watching his child carry out a long division problem as she explains the process.
A child shows her parent how elegantly she can classify plants by whether they have flowers and by the kinds of flowers they have.
There is peace in directions respectfully given by the teacher, respectfully received by the child.
A child’s t-shirt says, “I’m incredible; watch me learn!” as he and his friends proudly repeat an experiment for their parents.
After presenting, a child allows his father to have a go at cubing with the material at Open House.
A parent shares a chuckle as she realizes her child is trying to trick her with the location of a city on his Pin Map at Open House.
There is Peace in respecting the natural pace of the child, taking a friendly stroll to the playground, looking at things along the way.
One of every activity means many different activities taking place simultaneously. It also leads to learning respect for oneself, for the material, and for others.
Materials which are a child’s size say, “These are for you. You can do this!” They encourage precision, attention and control.
Peace is spreading one’s wings with a friend on the playground!
Peace is learning about how human beings have met their needs for food, clothing and shelter on the different continents. The pictures mounted on orange on the mat to the child’s right illustrate food, clothing and shelter in North America, the continent painted orange on the Puzzle Map.
Peace is helping each other when it is time to set up for lunch.
Learning to read and play music with the Bells is fun. The material is beautiful — and peaceful, too.
The goal of all the Sensorial Material at the Primary level, or “in the Primary class” is connecting the child to nature. Here some older Primary children head down a path leading to an apple orchard full of ripe apples, ready for the picking.
The simplicity of an experiment designed to demonstrate the work of warm air (It rises!) makes it accessible and understandable to the Elementary child.
There is Peace in being drawn into paying attention, in having the time to look and take in the results of a demonstration as long as is we find it interesting.
It feels good to have time with the teacher, time to look something over carefully, and talk about it together.
Peace is international and multilingual. In this class, a child brought his Spanish lessons to his friends, so another child brought her Chinese and another has created French lessons for the group. Peace is seen here in work freely chosen.
There is Peace in following the child’s interests. There is a lot to learn about horses, and we have a group who have set out to do just that — and share it with their entire class, too!
Reviewing the details of a mathematical process with a friend is fun—and it preserves a child’s dignity. It’s a lot easier than going to the teacher to say, “I forgot.” It’s a peaceful classroom where everyone has value and something to give.
It’s a peaceful classroom where children are comfortable— whether they are seated at child-sized furniture or sprawled on the floor with mats and charts. The child’s need to move and feel good at work is respected.
Say the word! An Elementary child has researched the way to say, “Peace” in several languages and has created a sign to help teach his class for part of their number for the Peace Celebration.
If Peace is a substance present throughout the school atmosphere, these are some of its molecules, perhaps hinting at the atoms from which it’s built.
It’s true that we make a concerted effort to teach peaceful conflict resolution, through “I messages” with the youngest children and through conflict mediation with the older ones. Respect and civility are important to us. Respect and civility cannot be simply commanded or ordered, though. They must grow in an atmosphere of Peace. All the tiny, seemingly inconsequential aspects seen above are forming the molecules which expand in the air around us creating a peaceful environment.
The Elementary children love to hear stories about How Things Came to Be, about Discoverers, about Early Humans who figured out how to talk to each other, how make a fire, how to make clothes. Our Montessori teachers explain that we have, as human beings, special gifts which help us to discover things and build our lives together. These special gifts are Imagination and Love.
At the Peace Celebration and every day, we celebrate our human gifts of imagination and love and the fact that they come to us in every child born into our midst.
A month ago today, we were preparing for afternoon dismissal before the Winter Holidays when some of us checked our computers and other devices and saw news so disturbing that it was difficult to comprehend. We warily dismissed our children and went about our scheduled evening errands, concerts, family gatherings, absorbing more of the sadness and fear of events that had taken place in Newtown, CT.
Now, as on the day we returned to school, January 3, our hearts go out to all parents and teachers who seek to reassure ourselves, through our many faiths, and in our lack of faith, that there is a light and that the darkness can never put it out.
There is a light in the nature of the child, in humanity, pure and simple. To nurture its flame of imagination and love is to Educate for Peace.
Where do you see light? Do you remember when it was that you realized that so many generations of human begins came before us? In what ways do you think we are re-living experiences of Early Humans? In what ways is our life different?
Thank you for reading our blog. Leave a comment. Say your Peace and use your gifts to create a more peaceful world.