Peace Begins Within
Peace begins within. Being able to recognize and name your own feelings is an essential first step in bringing about a more peaceful world. In Beginner classrooms, faculty teach and reinforce words that identify emotional states such as happy, sad, worried, and angry. They also help children begin to recognize the cues their body gives them to how they may be feeling. In Primary, students are introduced to a tool called the Mood Meter. The Mood Meter helps students understand their emotions as well as the effects their emotions have on their behavior.
After living through WWII and witnessing the traumatic impact of war on the lives of children, Maria Montessori made Peace Education a core part of the curriculum Montessori schools use today. In her view, "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education." Dr. Montessori was recognized for her anti-war and child advocacy with three Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
The Montessori Peace Curriculum includes multiple components, which vary based on the ages of the students. Areas of focus include:
Once you gain awareness of your own emotions and the sensory cues that align with those feelings, you can move on to learning how to self-regulate. Perhaps the most important work Wellan faculty do to promote peace is to support students in strengthening their emotional self-regulation skills. Being able to manage big feelings in non-violent, socially appropriate ways is an important life skill and one that will go a long way to prevent disagreements or hurt feelings. Many classrooms have a "Peace Corner," which is an area students can go to engage in self-calming activities before rejoining the group.
Understanding of Social Cues and Ability to Display Empathy
Wellan teachers work with students to help them recognize how others are feeling by reading facial expressions and interpreting behavior. Children often misinterpret one another's actions, which can lead to misunderstandings that escalate into hurt feelings or conflict. Showing empathy for others whose interests or behaviors are not the same as yours is difficult at first, so teachers seize opportunities for students to practice open-mindedness and empathy. The Montessori cultural curriculum introduces children to different cultures and traditions, fostering an appreciation for diversity. By exploring the world’s cultures, children develop empathy and a broader perspective on humanity.
Habits of Grace and Courtesy
There is a series of Montessori lessons that teach children manners, social skills, and respect for others. Through activities such as greeting each other, taking turns, and apologizing sincerely, children learn the importance of courtesy in their interactions. These positive habits can help to reduce conflict.
The Montessori Peace Curriculum equips children with the tools to handle conflict constructively. They learn to express their feelings, listen actively to others, and seek mutually acceptable solutions. These skills lay a solid foundation for maintaining peaceful relationships in adulthood. In Primary, students may learn to use the "Peace Rose" as a tool to initiate a peer conversation to resolve hurt feelings. As students mature, they learn and practice how to use "I-statements" when engaging in conflict resolution.
Wellan students typically exhibit strong interpersonal skills, empathy, and a deep respect for others. They tend to approach conflict as an opportunity for growth and cooperation. With these skills and habits of mind, they are prepared to strive for peace in their relationships and work for peace in their communities.