These are difficult times. Tragic events such as those in Charlottesville, Va., and Barcelona, Spain, have focused our attention on acts of violence and intolerance. Conversations are focused on our differences, with race, religion and culture at the forefront. What is our obligation when events such as these dominate our landscape? How can we make a difference?
One need look no further than historic thought leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Dr. Maria Montessori to guide us. They provide wisdom that will remind us of our obligation to each other as we work toward peace and justice. They and countless others have allowed us to live the lives we live today – lives of opportunity, equity and security.
Each day schools have the opportunity to shape our future. Peace and social justice are central to Montessori education. Students are taught grace and courtesy from the moment they enter our schools. These tenets are part of our students’ experience each and every day. Through conflict, they learn acceptance, tolerance and understanding. They make mistakes. They are sometimes unkind. However, what they learn is how to see another’s point of view, how to listen and how to respectfully engage in conversation with others. For as Maria Montessori said so well, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.”
As another school year begins, we must work to help children learn about others – their similarities and their differences – to create a world of peace.