Maria Montessori, Advocate for Peace
Maria Montessori, medical doctor, educator and visionary, opened her first school, the Casa dei Bambini, in Rome in 1907. In the next two decades, Dr. Montessori’s methods achieved worldwide currency, in part through the publication of The Montessori Method (1912) and Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook (1914). In the early 1930’s, the changed political climate in her native Italy, namely the rise of fascism, made her work difficult, and in 1934, Dr. Montessori’s refusal to politicize her work and schools resulted in the shutdown of all Montessori schools and her departure from the country.
World unrest and her own exile led Maria Montessori to advocate publicly for peace, and thus make clear the connection between her teaching methods and a social and world order generated by respect, cooperation and the intelligent activities of citizens. In a series of speeches, conferences and other activities, conducted in India and Western Europe, Dr. Montessori spoke about educational reform and the benefits to a world society. A number of her lectures were published as Educazione e Pace (1949), translated, Education and Peace (1972). Her work, embraced by a worldwide community of educators, politicians and academics, earned her nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951, and in recent years as well. Continue reading