When you, as an adult, an educator, a parent or a global citizen look around and see trouble, injustice, anger and violence on a global scale, what do you think you can do? To feel like you can make any sort of a difference at all can be difficult.
In part our ability to know what is happening globally may take our attention away from what is happening immediately around us, and within us. Feeling helpless to have any effect on major global issues can be seen to be normal – but we must remember that change does not just ‘happen’ – all change starts with one person.
Maria Montessori travelled widely – across Europe, America and India. By 1939, she spoke widely of mankind as being one entity, comparing it to a single organism, or one nation. She began to use the term ‘citizen of the world’ and saw her method not just as one of education but as a tool to educate humanity.
She stated that ‘the child is both a hope and a promise for mankind’. Montessori saw that peace is not only about cessation of conflict, it is about developing a mind-set of cooperation and respectful acceptance of diversity of cultures, religions and caring attitudes towards our rich natural environment. Peace came from allowing the child to follow their natural path of development, a path that leads humans to be independent beings that operate interdependently with other people, animals and their environment.
If our guides, educators, parents and carers are at peace then they will be better able to fully focus on the children in their care, to support them to develop their personalities. Through meeting their developmental and spiritual needs, by providing freedom to grow independence and by giving purpose to their work, the child will exist within, and embody peace.
Montessori’s view of how the classroom operates, with social responsibility, freedom, and limits was a mirror to how she viewed a global society functioning – children flourished under these conditions, giving hope that as adults they could continue this way.
Interested in finding out more? Take a look at our free online course – Education for Peace. This course is the starting point for those who are interested in Maria Montessori’s belief in, and approach to social change. In it, Peace Education will be examined both as a concept and in reality, with examples and suggestions of how it can be promoted and developed with all ages of children.