Did you know that Maria Montessori and Mahatma Gandhi were friends? Their mutual interest was teaching peace through education. Both were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Maria Montessori was a three time nominee from 1949-1951, and Mahatma Gandhi was nominated five times from 1937-1948. Truly, this is an honorable legacy for your children enrolled at Mt. Tahoma Montessori School!
Mediating “conflict resolution” during my first year as an elementary teacher was learned by trial and error. The school principal handed me a paddle when I asked for his guidance on a difficult student. He was serious, and I was appalled! Since the paddle was school property, I tucked it away in a desk drawer where it remained ~ untouched.
What a child learns in any environment will always depend on his maturity and readiness level. The Montessori foundation for teaching peace instills love and respect for one’s environment, which can include the natural elements, classroom materials, as well as classmates. For the very young preschooler who demonstrates disrespect, he is redirected with a simple explanation. For example, when a child interferes with a classmate’s work, I direct the offending child by saying “This is Maria’s work right now. Let’s find another one for you until she has finished and puts it back on the shelf.”
Apologies are meaningless until both students acknowledge and understand the affects of the undesirable behavior.
A more mature student is encouraged to engage in dialogue to understand the ripples and consequences of his actions. Apologies are meaningless until both students acknowledge and understand the affects of the undesirable behavior. This is a huge step, and tremendously empowering for a young child learning to resolve conflicts peacefully.
No doubt, I’ll be reading the news one day and come across a familiar name. Maria Montessori and Mahatma Gandhi would also be as delighted as me to hear about your little peacekeeper’s pursuits!
– Ms. Beirne
Teacher at Mt. Tahoma Montessori School