How do we educate for peace?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this question: what am I supposed to teach my little preschoolers at this time in our collective history when we are facing global events like climate change, extreme political polarization, and now, the war in Ukraine? The correct buzz words are abundant in our society: kindness, cooperation, justice, respect, rights, peace efforts, etc. But their meaning, their everyday practice, often eludes us. What does it really mean to be peaceful? To whom exactly are we supposed to be kind? What exactly is justice and how respectful exactly are we with those who think differently than us, all of them, not only select few? How do we cooperate so we really hear each other?

Each one of those questions comes with endless subsets of ramifications: for example we all speak about kindness and respect, but what does it mean to be kind to the bugs, the air, the water, trees or to far-away-people that we never met, or to my little friend that just took my toy? How do we problem solve such complex interactions?

We all have a sense that education is the answer. ‘Education’ has become buzz word, heavily exploited by politicians and translated into often questionable and heart-hurting educational methods. Here are some of the educational methods and practices widely used these days: standardized tests, measured outcomes, overcrowded classrooms,  cookie cutter education practices.  At the end of many years of schooling, the education that is supposed to inspire our children often destroys their souls.

Maria Montessori’s quote gives a glimpse into what I have learnt in twenty five years of teaching my sweet little preschoolers and in my fifty years of living: at this moment in our collective global history when the world seams to be unraveling, when we desperately need to figure out how to be a peaceful species, we need to educate our little ones to cooperate with kindness. They need to cooperate so they can work on the problems they will face by collaborating and by reaching consensus. In a word, they need to make peace.

So yes, education is the answer. But I dare to suggest we go a step further than Maria Montessori’s quote. What we educate is important. But how we educate is even more important.

The four teachers at Learning Garden Montessori School, Abby, Carmela, Joela and I, decided to start this blog to share the beauty we all make in our little school. Learning Garden School is a place full of joy for all of us: for our sweet little preschoolers, for the teachers, parents, bugs, the air that envelops us and for the beautiful trees around us. We all create this joy and beauty, one gesture at the time. The four of us often wondered how can we ‘bottle’ the goodness of our little school and show it to the world, to show that it is possible to make a more beautiful kind and just world?

We are going to attempt to do it now, with words and thoughts, through this blog, by describing practical and philosophical snippets of our school life: what does it mean to raise an independent kid? Can tired kids learn? Daydreaming- is it a waste or necessary? Screen time? How do I teach my preschooler to pee in the potty? Trust-what does it mean and how does it exactly look? How do parents’ emotions affect the children? What does it mean to give choices to child? How do we talk with children? How do we guide the children to talk to each other? Why praising and gold stars do not work? Why should a parent teach a child not to hit? Why should a parent step back and give space to her child to do things by herself? How do we teach math so kids learn to think and understand its poetry? What does it mean to be an ‘educator’? The questions go on and on. They are rooted in our teaching experience, in the questions we are getting from the parents, and mostly in what we have learnt from our little students.

Lesson number one: three rules to keep Learning Garden a beautiful and joyous place, decided by the children and teachers at Learning Garden School:






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