Building Peace

November 11, 2014

It is said that holding a grudge is a learned skill as we mature. Slowly, and sadly so, life’s uncomfortable experiences lead to quick judgments of others that limit our possibilities to connect, understand and grow together – in peace. Children, on the other hand, have an innate sense of peacefulness. Obviously, I’m not talking about stillness or the ability to handle conflicts, as both skills must be learned. What I am saying is that young children inherently listen to new ideas and concepts without the weight of preconceived ideas and judgments clouding their desire to connect with another person. Their general trait is to reach out to others – work to understand – and then let go of misunderstandings, hurts and misgivings and run back out and play. My life’s work has me filled with the blessings of watching this ability in action. When someone spills, the children rush to help clean up a mess. When a friend is hurt, the children rush to ease the pain. These are but a few examples of the gifts we get from children all year long. Montessori schools are known for their promotion of peace by practicing the art of gracious acceptance of those who look, act and believe differently than ourselves. Our core philosophy is one of respect and honoring of others, and our studies revolve around a curriculum that broadens one’s cultural perspective of life on planet Earth.

Holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to explore these many perspectives. Amid our nation’s dominant celebrations of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, Cambridge Montessori students will be exposed to many other cultural and religious celebrations of life that occur throughout the world. This continues throughout our school year as we move through our geography and cultural studies. Please know that an immense amount of thought, discussion, and professional study underline our practices. They are appropriate to students’ developmental stages and will always honor the historical context of various beliefs. We do not and will not promote any specific religion but will immerse children in the tastes, textures, colors, and celebrations of the various cultures on planet Earth to broaden their experiences. In so doing, we provide a space for children to learn the art of listening and respectful communication with those who believe differently than ourselves. These skills will contribute to our students’ success in all aspects of their lives and ultimately will define our success as a global society.

As stated at the beginning, the child innately has this ability to reach out towards others. However, it takes intention and work to keep the door open. I encourage you to embrace your child’s questions about other cultures, people and beliefs and openly discuss the various viewpoints in relation to your own. These home-based discussions will build an amazing connection with you and your child as together you  find purpose, meaning and answers to the great questions of life. Your connections will lay the foundation for your child’s connections with others. This is a true step towards peace on Earth.


Munir Shivji

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