Anyone who has visited a Montessori classroom has observed the magical way that peace and harmony prevail in a classroom bustling with dozens of young hearts and minds of varying ages and at various stages of development. What makes this quiet, industrious “hum” of a Montessori classroom possible?
A wise believer in the power of the child, Maria Montessori advocated for the creation of “… an environment that will promote the development of peaceful individuals.” Dr. Montessori explained that peace prevails when we offer children the time and freedom to work on activities appropriate for the child’s stage of development. When we do this, we witness “a love of work or activity, concentration, self-discipline and joy in accomplishment” in the classroom.
These characteristics are not imposed by anyone or anything. Peace results from the child’s own efforts when the environment supports his inner needs. What we are seeing in the classroom is the joyful learning that happens when a child feels the self-actualization that is a result of his own self-discipline and accomplishments.
And just as Montessori environments aim for each child to achieve this inner peace, they also place a special emphasis on living in harmony and respecting the rights of others. The classroom is a community and within this community, respect for self, others, and the environment is taught and reinforced actively.As Mahatma Gandhi so wisely noted in a letter he wrote to Dr. Montessori: “If we are to teach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children.”
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Fun fact: Did you know that Maria Montessori herself was at the forefront of global peace advocacy and education, recognized during her time and throughout history as a spokesperson of the power of peace. In fact, she was thrice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.