Maria Montessori inspired the awareness and appreciation for diversity through her education method, which promotes peace, diversity and respect. Montessori stated that “averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education”.
We live in a diverse multicultural society; political boundaries are becoming softer as our global population begins to travel further and experience more with more ease than the generations before us did. At Little Gems Montessori we embrace this. Our little island attracts families from an array of races and cultures thus immersing us in a small but multi-cultural society. We aim to celebrate this diversity and nurture it, with the goal of creating a deep sense of community.
Maria Montessori believed that the study and exposure to other cultures had equal if not greater place in the classroom than the academic arts. The study of our and other’s origins and discovering our similarities and discussing our differences is something that enriches the children’s lives, just as our lives may enrich the lives of others.
As well as promoting a global classroom and curriculum, the vertically grouped class naturally creates a diverse community as different ages, abilities and interests are present - just as in society. Older more experienced children have the opportunity to assist and mentor younger children. Younger children learn from their older, more experienced classmates, while also bringing their older peers back to the joys of the early curriculum. Altogether this cycle sows the seeds of compassion and empathy; characteristics that link to peaceful and harmonious diversity.
Montessori classrooms reflect diversity and connection to the world through hands-on activities. The children receive an opportunity to explore cultural foundations of other people and nations to respect their traditions and appreciate cultural diversity. The activities from the Knowledge & Understanding of the World curriculum provide a broad foundation of learning about the way our world works and offer children an understanding of our existence. KUW explores the cultures from continents and the countries within them. Places, monuments, historical moments and celebrations are discussed and often brought into the classroom to explore. Whenever someone travels outside of our home, we ask them to bring back an artefact from the place that they are visiting. Geography, history, biology, science – all areas of learning which allow the child to feel their place in the world and begin to understand the concepts around them.
Our practical activities embody the simple beauty of refining the child’s skills for life, and we can use this to bring different parts of the world into our classroom. Through practical skills we can celebrate cultural events together, like Chinese New Year, Diwali and Thanksgiving. We invite family members to share experiences from their cultures with the children, such as themed story sessions or showing photos, etc. The practical skills of cooking allow us to eat in different countries, like sushi, pizza, fried rice and exotic fruit salads. The glue that binds the classroom to the development of diversity and inclusion is discussion. We discuss the information around us and provide investigation and exploration.
Children exposed to diverse and inclusive environments are more likely to feel more comfortable within their society as they begin to see familiarities rather than differences. Through discussion and education, if they are to face any differences within that society, the sense of familiarity allows them to feel comfortable rather than develop a fear of the unknown. The children truly are the agents of peace and change and a vivid, broad and diverse curriculum can encourage them to develop into problem solving adults that may construct a world based on a wholesome growth.