This quote by Robert Ingersoll reminds me why I am working in education and, more specifically, in a Montessori school. One of Maria Montessori’s basic tenets is that of paying homage to those who came before us. None of us would be who we are or where we are without noting those who paved the way. In some cases, such as with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi, the changes they brought to our world are indisputable. However, in the case of you, your child or neighbor, those who helped pave the way may be smaller players.
There are so many ways to practice this in a Montessori classroom. Central to Montessori philosophy are the concepts of grace and courtesy. Those are lovely words. How they become a part of who we are is through a thoughtful approach to each aspect of every day. Children are shown how to treat each other, how to be a part of a community. This is done through building a classroom environment that is safe, friendly and accepting. Of course there are conflicts, some small and others a bit more challenging. However, what occurs with the conflict is what matters. Children are taught to work together to solve their problems. They are encouraged to speak to one another and find a way to make amends.
Children have many opportunities to teach one another. They are taught by older more experienced classmates as well as teachers; they teach those who have not yet had the practice or lessons they have had. Everyone is a learner and a teacher. They support each other’s learning.
Another way you may notice this is through their service to others. From our youngest students to the oldest, community service is a part of our experience. Finding meaningful ways to assist those in need whether through our work with the Food Bank of Delaware or Heifer International, we reach out to others.
At Wilmington Montessori School, children have many opportunities to rise and learn and grow as they lift others. In other words, as they work hard to get along with others, they lift those others up and they learn and grow as a result. They rise by lifting others.