“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori
It is our responsibility as educators to promote peace within our classrooms. Peace education starts the moment the child walks through your door on the first day of school, and should be presented in almost every work and lesson all throughout the year. Maria Montessori was a large advocate for peace education, and created her philosophy and teaching methods based on this foundational principle.
There are many ways to promote peace in the classroom that aren’t too abstract and simple to teach, especially for our younger 2 – 3 year olds. Although it is important to touch on this subject, peace education does not have to just include the prevention of war. It can start in the classroom, by simple acts of kindness, or care of the environment and others around us. The word “peace” means something different to everyone; there are an endless number of ways a child can bring peace to the community. It is our job as educators to foster a healthy learning environment that displays both peace and harmony.
Here are a few ways that you can help promote peace in your classroom:
- Care of Environment, Self, and Others
– Children understand the importance of peace by learning to care for their classroom environment, as well as others around them. They want to be involved in work that is meaningful and has a specific purpose; work that allows them to be a beneficial member of the community.
- “No Bullying” Policy
– Of course it goes without saying that your school should have a strict no-tolerance policy against bullying. Teach children how to verbally resolve their conflicts, rather than acting on impulse and physically hurting another friend. We use kind words and gestures in the classroom, and never emotionally hurt another friend by calling them names. Verbally redirect children who might need extra help and guidance in this area. Nurture a healthy environment that promotes conflict resolution skills, which in turn help increase the child’s listening, communication, and problem solving skills.
- Care of Animals
– If your school permits, “classroom pets” are a great way to teach children the proper care of animals. Allow them to be responsible for feeding the animal, provide daily water, and clean the cages, with little help from the adult (but with the proper supervision!). A petting zoo is a great way to introduce different farm animals, and to teach the children how to pet the animals gently, or to respect their space when they do not want to be bothered. Remember, we pet animals with two fingers, gently!
- Respect for Diversity
– In our school community, we embrace a mutual respect for diversity, as well as a variety of cultural and international holidays. If we teach this same respect to children when they are young, they will grow to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of all cultures. The photo below is from a display in our Multicultural Winter Program, 2013.
– Not only is yoga the perfect indoor exercise activity for young children, it helps build peace from the inside out! Yoga builds muscle strength, promotes concentration, and teaches the child the importance of physical exercise. This is also a healthy outlet for those with “extra energy”.
- Peace Pledge
– Reciting a peace pledge is a good practice that should be done daily in the classroom. We proudly display the World Peace Flag as an important reminder of what our school represents. The children visit the flag daily to recite the peace pledge:
“I pledge allegiance to the earth and to all life that it nourishes, all growing things, all species of animals and all races of people. I promise to protect all life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity in good health and in peace.”
Education and peace go hand-in-hand; we must educate for peace.
Education and Peace: the Montessori Series, Maria Montessori
Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: the Challenge of Maria Montessori, Aline D. Wolf
Peace Education: Third Edition, Ian M. Harris and Mary Lee Morrison
Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures, Jan Reynolds
http://www.wincalendar.com/International-Day-Of-Peace (history of International Day of Peace)
“…establishing peace is the work of education” — Maria Montessori
“If we are to create peace in the world, we must begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“True peace, on the contrary, suggests the triumph of justice and love among all people” — Maria Montessori
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal” — Martin Luther King, Jr.