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Maria Montessori and education for war
an article by Kiki Chauvin

I have just read an article about Maria Montessori written by a French teacher in Rue 89, a French review.



click on photo to enlarge

In the 19th Century, the place of the woman was frozen in a strict social and cultural space. No doubt, it was not easy for Maria Montesorri to confront her family and community to become a free woman. Doctor, teacher, philosopher and natural scientist, this exceptional woman consecrated the beginning of her career to the defense of the rights of women and mentally deficient children. Later, she became known when she developed new methods of education.

Her technique was open. She privileged self- government for children just using simple knowledge. In their own experience children learn best in freedom and self-discipline where the rhythm of each one is respected.

It's an educational strategy that is the opposite of our traditional school system.

At present 4500 Montessori schools exist around the world.

There is no competition in this system. No learning of violence. Maria Montessori said in a public speech in 1937:

"The real defense of humanity cannot be based on guns. If we don't have confidence in education as the best "gun for peace", then wars will continue after wars. Otherwise, security and prosperity for mankind cannot be assured. Since education is the only path for the well-being of civilization and humanity, it must be practiced in a new way"

Where are we 77 years later? Is our comprehension of humanity more open than before? Are we making progress in solidarity? In fraternity? Have we changed our regard to each other? Are we always in education for war? conflict? disasters? Are we not confused in each commemoration between respect for the victims of conflict and unconscious defense of violence?

It is necessary and urgent to dismantle this universal culture of war described by Montessori, and to replace it by a real and final culture of peace, not by a series of truces between wars.

Peace education has to destroy the conviction that power comes from strength, just as human rights have to replace the exploitation of people. Similarly, democratic participation and equality between women and men must take the place of authoritarian government and male domination.

To finish, I again give the speech to Maria Montessori:

If Man had achieved a truly healthy maturity, If he had developed a strong character and a clear spirit, he could not accept in himself the existence of moral principles that are diametrically opposed . He would not be able to promote at the same time two forms of justice: on the one hand to develop life,; and on the other hand, to destroy it.

(Click here for a French version of this article)

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Letter from Mohatma Gandhi to Maria Montessori.

To Madame Montessori

Even as you, out of your love for children, are endeavoring to teach children, through your numerous institution, the best that can be brought out of them, even so, I hope that it will be possible not only for the children of the wealthy and the well-to-do, but for the children of paupers to receive training of this nature. You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have the struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.

Mohatma Gandhi, Young India, 19-11-''31


This report was posted on November 14, 2014.