“Love holds the universe together because it is a real force, and not just an idea.” -Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori was ahead of her time. It was through her medical practice as the first female physician in Italy that she began observing children in a clinical sense. Her passion for observing children led to her eventually leaving medicine and devoting her life to creating an educational pedagogy that is based in scientific research, known as Montessori education. What is sometimes left out when we talk about Montessori education is her peace curriculum. Maria Montessori lived through two world wars and traveled the world during turbulent times. To say she was an advocate for peace is an understatement. She was adamant that educating children was fundamental to ensuring a peaceful future. This is evident throughout her writings, lectures, and her three Nobel Peace Prize nominations. She believed that in order for children to learn peace in their educational environment, it must be modeled by adults and be a consistent part of the daily curriculum.
In Primary II, we have begun our peace curriculum. We have already witnessed incredibly touching moments amongst the children. We will continue to do at least one lesson from our peace shelf per week throughout the month of August, and these lessons will evolve throughout the year. During last week’s lesson we talked about our love lights. We presented a silhouette of a person and talked about how despite our differences, we have one thing in common: a light that shines inside us. At this point in the presentation a flashlight shined behind the silhouette to emit a glow. We talked about how this light shines when we are happy and proud. When we are sad or hurt, sometimes because of someone else, our light dims. The flashlight was turned down so the light could barely be seen. The children gave wonderful examples of what makes their light shine. We are positive they would be happy to talk to you at home about this lesson and share what makes their love light shine!
We all need calm moments of peace in our lives. To this end, we have begun our practice of morning meditation. Without time to rest our minds, we become irritable, frustrated and can even lose sleep. Maria Montessori developed something called the “Silence Game.” When this game is implemented in the environment, the children are making a choice to make silence. We present the lesson by telling the children we will be creating silence together and hold up a card that reads silence. When they see this very special card held up, it is their cue to be silent and still. After a few moments, we whisper their names one by one to come out of their silence and stillness. Throughout the months and throughout your child’s three year cycle, their meaning of meditation and the silence game will become deeper and their focus longer. One additional intent of this activity is that it causes children to develop an awareness of their body and a sensitivity to the noise around them.
After two weeks together, we already see so much daily love and kindness between the Primary II children. Ms. Monica and I are exceptionally proud to bear witness to their daily growth emotionally and academically and are looking forward to a year full of peace and learning.