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
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
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
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)
Question(s) related to this article:
What is the relation between peace and education?,
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Latest reader comment:
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