By: April Powell (11/17/11)
Recently, Sra. Anna wrote about “The Peace Vibe,” (www.oakhavenmontessori.net/why-oakhaven/the-peace-vibe/) which is an essential component (and, in fact, the goal) of Montessori education. It is quite impressive how this is, indeed, a common factor of all true Montessori schools worldwide. This really got me thinking: given the current condition of our planet, how is this even possible? What creates this culture among even the youngest of children? I believe there are a few key factors, which enable us to create this standard of peace in each and every school and classroom around the earth:
The basis of Montessori education is a fundamental respect for all of life. Even the very youngest children are offered total respect from the moment they walk in our doors. In Montessori schools we don’t hang up posters explaining to children why respect is important or make them sing songs about it, but rather we strive to live it in all that we do with them, with one another and with the rest of the community. Each child has the opportunity to receive, witness and practice giving respect every day. And included in this attitude of respect is a friendliness with error (meaning that we are forgiving of mistakes – theirs and our own).
2. Value of Individuality
Each child (and person) is unique in her own right – with her own interests, abilities and strengths. Our whole goal when working with the children here is to help each child find his own individual genius and build that to its highest potential. Dr. Montessori was very clear when she instructed us to, “Concentrate on strengthening and helping the development of what is good in the child so that its presence may leave less and less space for evil.” So instead of pushing so hard to make each child fit the same mold (how we want them to be), we aspire to bring out each person’s own talents and gifts and celebrate the reality that everyone is different.
In the Montessori directress (teacher) training one of the first things we are told is that before anything else can happen in the classroom, we must build relationships with the children that are based on trust, confidence and respect. We must earn the children’s trust before we can “teach” them anything. In addition, we work to cultivate an environment of calm, patience, love and humility for the children – beginning with finding it within ourselves.
And these are just a few factors I thought of that contribute to the “Peace Vibe” that Anna wrote so eloquently about several weeks ago. What else have you noticed or experienced around here that creates that amazing feeling that’s so hard to find anywhere else? What do you notice in your children? How do you model and encourage this peace at home?
For me, it is a true gift and honor to have the privilege of providing this environment for so many incredible children and to know that I am creating peace on earth – one child at a time. And in the meantime, I get to learn so much and strive to be my very best each and every day! What could be better?