Building the foundation for peace

Building the foundation for peace

Submitted By: Masooma Alibhai On: 19/01/2009
Source : Dawn
By Masooma Alibhai


The 26th International Montessori Congress was held in Chennai in the first week of January. Fourteen members of the Pakistan Montessori Association and others attended this four-yearly event. The theme of the conference was Sadhana reflective practice, spontaneous living. Andre Roberfroid, president of Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), Amsterdam, inaugurated the congress welcoming the global Montessori fraternity, followed by Dr Silvana Quattrocchi Montanaro, AMI trainer and assistance to infancy, from Italy, who spoke on &ldquoPeace and Education&rdquo.

The delegates conveyed the following message to the managing committee of the Congress by the President of Pakistan Montessori Association.

The world is going through a difficult period just now. There seems to be conflicts in many countries globally. We Montessorians believe in peace and communication to ease discord and distrust, to generate mutual trust and to work towards a better harmonious world.

It is with these sentiments that the delegates from Pakistan have come to participate in the congress as we share a strong common bond of Montessori philosophy, said Habiba Thobani.

The plenary session included speakers from Athens, Canada, USA, etc. Lynne Lawrence, executive director AMI was of the opinion that while it is true that an individuals actions are a reflection of his personality, it is just as true that his personality is the sum total of all his actions. The best time to take advantage of their interdependence is during the formative years of childhood when the individuals interactions with his environment, with others and with himself, can be nurtured as a whole thereby empowering the child to spend the best life he can.

International seminar presenter Judi Orion said that there is Sadhana in the childs actions from the moment of his birth. He masters his environment through constant effort resulting in perfection of movement that seems effortless. When he is in an environment that is both nurturing and follows his natural development it can result in the creation of a human being who is sure of himself and of his place in the world.

Irene Fafalios, educational consultant for Montessori schools in Athens wondered aloud about what makes a good Montessori directress? Or would we ask ourselves what happens to adults who work with children in a Montessori Casa? She said.

Irene looked at the preparation of an adult for the task of receiving a child in a casa. Being a child-centric world, the casa demands the adult to almost forget about herself and become a part of the environment. This requires great understanding of the childs needs and belief in the childs powers of development. It also requires preparation of the self of a calibre that she says seems almost monastic in many respects. Irene looked at this preparation of the adult and what it means for the casa and for society itself.

According to Sandra Girlato, director of training, Foundation for Montessori Education, Toronto, the potential for the progress or decline of humanity lies in education. All adults, and specifically educators, must acknowledge our universal responsibility that whatever we do as human beings has the power to transform our existence on this earth. Therefore, as the foundations for our lives are laid in childhood our childrens education must be complete in the broadest sense not only in acquiring knowledge, but in developing basic human qualities such as kindness, honesty, faith and conviction so that each child can be a builder of peace.

Language is an integral part of who we are: as human beings, as individuals, as members of a human society. Baiba Krumins Grazzini, director of training, Bergamo, pointed out that language permits us to manifest our humanity, participate in society and express our individuality. Language is a gift from one generation to the rest: a song of life that traverses time and space. That changes continually and yet creates continuity. That lends identity to individuals, communities and nations.The childs language develops spontaneously as part of the natural development, but the fullest development of the human potential for language is vitally dependent Executive Director North American Montessori Teachers Association, David Kahns paper focused on working side-by-side with enthusiastic adult specialists who have a role in society. It inspires adolescents to want to play their part in nature, society and the global human effort. Looking at the Montessori root ideas of education and experience, indoors and out doors, practical and social life, farm and urban world settings we need to examine the international perspective on the application of Montessori principles to educational and social reform in direct relationship to community-based realities.Another session threw light on specific ages. Patricia Wallner, director, Bilingual Infant Community, Amsterdam was of the view that the first three years of a childs life lays the foundation for all subsequent development. An understanding of the unlimited potential of the child during this period can make it possible for the adult to help him create a strong foundation for the social being he is going to be.

Pamela Nunn, supervisor, Sydney Montessori Society, Lindfield said that the Montessori approach to the child, between the ages of three to six years, is to fully support the self-construction of the individual. It is during this period of time that the child is actively creating his own unique personality with all the values and knowledge necessary to function in the world. Meanwhile, Dr Jean Miller, a certified AMI consultant examiner spoke about children between the ages of six to 12. This is the time when they are developing their social and moral conscience and there is a great emphasis on working cooperatively together.

Through a short talk, slides, and some readings from Dr Montessoris writings, Dr Miller covered some of the fundamentals of Montessori 6-12 including cosmic education, the great lessons, interrelated subject areas and the importance of the three-year age range and three-hour work cycle in a classroom .AMI was founded with the intention of disseminating Dr Montessoris principles. The methodology is gaining popularity the world over but there are only a handful of trainers who are qualified to train the teachers who work with the children. In order to ensure that the benefits of the Montessori methodology reaches more children worldwide, AMI has been working on a more structured programme for trainers. It offers accredited courses in 35 centres around the world with new teacher trainers completing the training of trainers programme every year.

The camaraderie that United Nations and the Commonwealth Heads have failed to achieve, the global Montessori family has achieved through education.

In the words of Dr Maria Montessori: Preventing conflicts is the work of politics establishing peace is the work of education. We must convince the world of a need for a universal, collective effort to build the foundation for peace upon mindful adult help to developing life.