Susan Mayclin Stephenson is an artist and Montessori Consultant from Trinidad, California
Montessori Education, when done as Dr. Montessori intended, is essentially education for peace. Many people use the Montessori materials to make traditional education more interesting and successful. For example it is always easier for a child to understand math when it is taught with the number rods, the thousand cubes and so on. This is good. But when these materials are used in a traditional setting, it is not education for peace.
There is no need for a special curriculum or materials labeled “peace materials.” When a child is taught, by imitating the adults, to put a piece of work back on the shelf, clean and complete for the next child, this is education for peace, as it is thoughtfulness for others. When there is only one of a kind of materials in the classroom and a child knows that when the next child is finished he will be able to work with it, this teaches patience, which is education for peace. When the adults in the room move slowly and carefully with grace and consideration and speak in a respectful voice to each other and to the children, this is active modeling of a peaceful way to be.
When a child is taught that he must not interrupt another child who is concentrating, this teaches respect for the right to concentrate [ no matter how long] and it enables the working child to concentrate as well. And this uninterrupted concentration is the vital element in Montessori because it is after a long period of concentration, where a child may repeat an activity over and over and over out of a need that comes from deep within, that he is filled with love for others and the environment. What could be a more important instance of peace education!
So let us look, not at the materials, but on the way the adults model peace and serenity, and the way that education is carried out in the classroom, for the nurturing of a peaceful way to think and be.