Peace education—supporting children to live in harmony with all living things and to become agents of peace-making in the world—is the foundation of our work as Montessorians. The peace rose is a common fixture in Montessori environments, passed back and forth during conflict resolution to practice deep listening. Too often though, we focus only on the bloom, without looking deeper to examine the roots.
While teaching in an upper elementary classroom in the Bay Area at an independent school, one of the students came up to me after a lesson on the way stereotyping and prejudice interfere with connectedness and peace, and said with exasperation, “But, Ms. Daisy, racism doesn’t exist anymore. It only exists in Alabama.”
This may be something easy to dismiss with a smile or laugh, but what that effectively does is absolve us from responsibility to address this moment in a meaningful way. What tools did I have to address this? A peace rose?
No matter how well-intentioned or how well-educated we are, identifying, naming, and dismantling racism as a part of our peace education work is not something educators inherently know how to do. So many of our conversations stop at “feel-good” topics about harmony and mutual respect. When confronted with scenarios of racism, too often the discomfort and confusion leads to avoidance and silence.
That’s why the Wildflower Foundation is offering a new support program, “Embracing Equity,” that will equip Montessori teachers with useable knowledge, necessary skills, and intentional practices for reimagining what it means to critically engage in peace education, beginning with self. We are launching the first cohort in the fall of 2017; sign-ups are open now until August 15, 2017.
Through the work of understanding our own racial and ethnic identity, it becomes clear that the way we embrace equity impacts how we interact with our students and their families. Embracing Equity strives to dismantle the racism that has been baked into our systems and has routinely created different outcomes for people of color.
Montessori educators know that the spiritual preparation of the adult is something Dr. Montessori declared of utmost importance. As Montessori teachers striving for revolutionary peace, we need to be willing to do the hard work of plowing up the biases and blindspots that have taken root in ourselves. In the same way, the peace ceremony needs more than our analysis of the rose to address the systemic inequities in our society. Only through deeper examination of the whole rose—from the bloom down to the roots—can we truly have liberation for all.
*UPDATE: Sign-ups are now closed. To stay in touch on future offerings, please complete the following form.*