“Mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child, and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.
The child is the forgotten citizen, and yet, if statesmen and educationists finally came to realize the terrific force that is in childhood for good or for evil, I feel they would give it priority above everything else. All problems of humanity depend on man himself: if man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved.
Man must be cultivated from the beginning of life when the great powers of nature are at work. It is then that one can hope to plan for a better international understanding.”
~Dr. Maria Montessori
Establishment of a peaceful environment lies at the core of Montessori education. Dr. Montessori was the champion of the revolutionary concept of an open classroom, where children are guided rather than controlled. She believed that by giving children the freedom to exist in a cooperative environment rather than a competitive one, they learn respect, how to work both alone and collectively, and with children of different ages and abilities. In fact, they learn more readily from observing others because of their mutual differences, as they are at their most absorbent stage of knowledge acquisition as young humans.
The role of a Montessori teacher is that of a guiding observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. Montessori teachers are trained to maintain harmony in the open classroom, where instruction of children of mixed ages occurs in 3-year age groups (0-3 years old, 3-6 years old, 6-9 years old, 9-12 years old), corresponding to particular sensitive periods of development.
The mission of all Montessori teachers is to create an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and to be there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner discipline. With the younger students at each level, the teacher is more active, demonstrating the use of materials and presenting activities based on an assessment of the child’s requirements. Knowing how to observe constructively and when, and how much, to intervene, is one of the most important talents the Montessori teacher acquires during a rigorous course of training.
Dr. Montessori’s own term for the pedagogy she created was “Education as an Aid to Life,” and education as an aid to life is applicable at any time, in any place, within all social strata, through public or private agencies, in settings rural, urban and remote, regardless of race, religion or social standing. When Montessori principles are applied in the wider context of society, their possibilities are vast and all encompassing. It is only through teaching children to love themselves, their work, their peers and the environment within which they exist, that we can expect them to continue on as such as adults in the world community. Peace can only be achieved through education.
“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings, and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.”
~ Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace