Montessori Peace Curriculum
"The Science of Peace, were it to become a special discipline, would be the most noble of all, for the very life of humanity depends on it. So, also perhaps, does the question of whether our entire civilization evolves or disappears."
-Dr. Maria Montessori, 1932.
Dr. Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Each nomination acknowledged her work toward achieving world peace through education, starting with the youngest child and continuing on ever more complex levels throughout the academic years.
In 1982, Ursula Thrush continued Maria Montessori’s work by establishing the Peace 101 project. The principals of her Peace Education are as follows:
- The first and most basic principle of Peace Education is freedom of choice and self- determination leading to self-respect, security and creativity.
- The second basic principle of Peace Education is respect for and cooperation with our peers.
- The third basic principle of Peace Education is respect for the environment.
Susan Cohn, former Head of School at BCMS, taught the Peace 101 course for Ursula Thrush at her San Francisco training center from 1985 until Ursula’s death in September, 2002. On Ursula’s request, Susan carries on the Peace 101 project course at the Maria Montessori Teacher Training Center here at BCMS as well as presenting the curriculum at Montessori conventions twice a year. Susan has trained each of the teachers at BCMS in this course and they, in turn, teach the method to students each day.
Peace Curriculum In The Classroom
As a vital part of any Montessori classroom, Peace curriculum begins with the toddler-age child in the Primary classroom. Here, teachers assist children in finding words that will help them solve a conflict. As the Primary child matures, they are introduced to the Peace Table, where students are encouraged to resolve problems themselves by taking turns expressing feelings using “I felt" statements and engaging in respectful listening. The teacher monitors the exchange and guides only when necessary.
In the Lower Elementary classroom, students are aware of their community and want to work within the group. The beginning of a group discussion evolves without blaming or using names. A Peace totem (a stone, shell or other object) is passed between the individuals in conflict and each individual may speak when he or she feels comfortable expressing heartfelt feelings.
Students in the Upper Elementary classroom are searching for individual identity. They return to the Peace Table as a group, with issues brought up by individuals. Members offer suggestions for resolution of the matter at hand without blaming. Importance is placed on how a member of the group feels when the group discusses his or her actions. Each member must speak from the heart. The group facilitates themselves, often appointing an elder in the group to lead the discussion.