One Child at a Time

In my Montessori philosophy class this week, we got a piece of paper titled “The Unfolding Montessori Teacher” which outlines ways we could continue to grow and give back to the Montessori community over the course of our Montessori career. It was presented as a guide, not a choose your own adventure, and the last item is:

Takes a global responsibility: Helping Achieve World Peace

While this is a beyond lofty goal, it is the most succinct way I have of knowing that I have found my people. Dr. Montessori felt very strongly that education serves as a peace-builder, and that tradition continues in many of her namesake schools. But how? The Montessori answer is simple – One child at a time.

Everything about the Montessori style of education is based on following the child, serving their developmental needs, and doing so in the name of creating a good human, not just a good student. While this spans their academics, meaning everything they do is personal to them, it also stretches into their personal development, which is very much a part of the curriculum.

Children as young as two-and-a-half are actively taught grace, courtesy, manners, and conflict resolution. From the very beginning, students are taught about kindness and respect. Arguments over playground toys are met with an adult mediated session where each affected party gets to share their side. The goal is collective peace, and a transference of resolution skills, not mutual tolerance. Further, an enduring respect for life is cultivated throughout the Montessori experience, from caring for classroom plants and animals, to a universal no kill attitude – even roaches and mosquitos are humanely caught and returned to their outdoor home.

Being in Orlando made Montessori’s call for peace education all the more timely and painfully important. Montessorians, and educators collectively, must continue to show children ways toward peace that they can carry with them and spread to others throughout their lives, one child at a time.

Bittersweet

Skipping in, or hiding behind mom,
it’s true that day one was relatively calm,
but soon they’d manage to test my aplomb.

They challenged me to be fair and just,
(especially with those who cussed),
while I helped them to unclench their fists;
but no matter how long we discussed,
many problems left me nonplussed.

I watched each child learn and grow,
though progress was incrementally slow,
I loved seeing each of them find their flow.

The end grew near
and I wanted a beer,
as it had been quite a year.

The last day came
and I had to proclaim,
I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.

I hope each child saw the piece of me
that loved their idiosyncrasies.
It’s easy to foresee
all that they could be.

Cleaning cubbies with no faces to greet,
it isn’t a year I would want to repeat,
but I can truly say the end is bittersweet.