Peace Education in a Montessori Classroom
“Peace is a goal that can only be attained through common accord, and the means to achieve this unity for peace are twofold: first, an immediate effort to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence—in other words, to prevent war—and second, a long-term effort to establish a lasting peace among men”~ Maria Montessori
Earlier today during recess, I was spending time with some of our younger friends. I noticed a large group of students from the Elementary Class playing around in the back. They apparently caught a mole. I wasn’t there so I don’t know the full story. Somewhere along the way, they were arguing about whether they should keep it or not. One of the boys set it free. When they all came in for lunch, one of the girls asked to call some of her friends to “the peace tray”.
The “Peace Tray” is a tool that the children use to work out their problems without adult intervention. (The Peace Tray is shown in this picture). They learn to resolve their conflicts in a peaceful way by taking the Peace Tray off of the shelf and sitting down with their friends, speaking only when they are holding the Peace Rose. The children in this picture were working out their issues that arose due to conflict over the mole. In the upper left hand corner, a boy, who decided to let the mole free, needed to take a break from the “negotiations”. He is holding in his hand the “Peace Pole” which is a tool that the children can use when they need time to reflect and calm down. When a child takes the “peace pole” off of the peace tray and holds it in his or her hand, this is a sign to the other children (and adults for that matter) to give them space.
In what I am calling the “mole gate” negotiations, the children were able to work out whatever issues came up. I, as the teacher in the class, do not even know what those issues were. It was between them. They figured it out.
Maria Montessori was a champion for peace as she watched the effects of World War II throughout Europe. We as Montessorians are charged with the task to “teach peace” and help children learn that they can resolve conflicts without violence. Very young children can learn to resolve conflict, and this I see almost every day in the wonderful group of children that I teach.
Now I don’t know the full story behind “Mole Gate” and typically I stay out of this stuff, it’s the kid’s issue, not mine, BUT curiosity did get the best of me. I had to ask the boy who set the mole free why he did it. His response was “Mr. Paul, I had to set him free because he was so small.” I would like to think Maria Montessori would have smiled at this statement. I know I did.