Maria Montessori (1870-1952) is most often remembered for her contributions to the education of young children. However, she is also considered by many to be a founder of peace education.
She believed that the root of peace lay in the education we give our children. Only when children are intentionally taught global citizenship, respect for diversity, and personal responsibility will they have the strength to refuse to blindly follow their leaders into war. We neglect the spiritual and moral education of our children at our own risk.
In Education for a New World (1947), Maria Montessori wrote:
"But humanity is not yet ready for the evolution that it desires so ardently, the construction of a peaceful and harmonious society that shall eliminate war. Men are not sufficiently educated to control events, so become their victims. Noble ideas, great sentiments have always found utterance, but wars have not ceased! If education were to continue along the lines of mere transmission of knowledge, the problem would be insoluble and there would be no hope for the world… we have before us in the child a psychic entity, a social group of immense size, a veritable world-power if rightly used. If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of man, and so of society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more luminous future. Education should no longer be mostly about the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities."
Decades later, there has been little progress toward world peace. Certainly there is more behind the ills of the world than the way we educate children. Poverty and injustice play a major role. But perhaps we should also step into our classrooms and ask ourselves: Has space been made in the curriculum in which to teach peace education and social justice?
There are no core standards in these ares.
There are no state tests.
Yet, teaching our children to be moral global citizens is essential. If Maria Montessori was alive today, what would she think of the way we are educating our students?
Read more about Maria Montessori