Opening our Eyes and Hearts to Others: The Work of the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee
Perhaps now more than ever, it is easy to feel horror at human atrocities while also feeling too busy, too discouraged, too insignificant to help. Every moment, our world becomes more connected via technology, yet it is quite clear that we also are in a time of disconnect. Whether we find ourselves sitting in our living rooms watching news from Ukraine or participating in a classroom discussion on the Russo-Ukraine war, we may feel a variety of emotions from heartbreak to outrage to despair. We are bombarded with images and not sure exactly where to start. However, we are Montessorians, and it doesn’t take long to move from helpless to hopeful. We research, we network, we connect, we act.
Maria Montessori believed that our work with children extends far beyond the Pink Tower and the Sandpaper Letters. She understood the vital need to connect with and empower the whole child, long before the term “whole child” was even coined. Sometimes, it is our inclination to shield our students from what is happening around the globe. But when we talk about current events in our world at a developmentally appropriate level, we open the student’s eyes to more than just the tragedy itself. We open their eyes and heart to the power of unity in humanity. We show them what can be accomplished when we work together. Though it may sound cliché, there’s power in love and we can model that power to our students.
Currently the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee is liaising with several organizations in hope of streamlining ways for our AMS membership to support the people of Ukraine, both those who are still there and those who have been forced to leave their homeland. While there are several organizations doing excellent work in the region, we find that the International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, and the work of the folks at Princeton Montessori School are vital to supporting the children of Ukraine. The passionate and skilled staff at AMS have compiled information and resources that can make supporting these programs easy.
Connecting the AMS membership with reputable and compassionate activist organizations across the globe has been vital to the work of the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee since its inception. Our committee, like so many of the best things in Montessori, had a grassroots start. Picture four or five Montessorians dedicated to making the world a better place, sitting on the floor in a common space at an AMS conference years ago. Big hearts, sensible shoes, (I’m assuming a guitar or two), and boundless love for humanity.
While the work of the committee changes with our world, the mission—to serve as an inspiration and resource for experiencing, sharing, and teaching peace—remains the same. The committee’s goal is to advocate for social justice, humanitarianism, environmental stewardship, and global citizenship in Montessori communities and the world.
We are currently a group of eighteen and while we all are committed to every aspect of our mission, we also all have areas of passion and expertise. Long standing committee members, like Chandra Fernando, have dedicated their entire lives to being true global citizens and letting the teachings of Maria Montessori guide their efforts. Chandra’s ability to quickly act and connect with organizations around the world is awe-inspiring.
But you do not need to be an expert to help in our work. We always want more hands, more hearts, and more voices at the table. In addition to the work we do serving others, we are also working hard on being the best versions of ourselves. This year we are doing a deep dive on anti-bias, antiracist education in conjunction with our own identity work. Whether age 25 or 85, we committee members are dedicated to lifelong learning and self-improvement. Only when we understand our own world lens, can we truly open our eyes and hearts to the experiences of others.
We welcome you to work alongside us as we continue our commitment to amplify peace and social justice in our Montessori schools and in the world at large. And, of course, if you are unable to make that commitment at this time, we would love you to support the organizations mentioned earlier in this post, your contribution is truly appreciated.
We should walk together on this path called life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.
For more information on our committee, contact Aimee Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Aimee Allen (she/her) is the head of school at Harbor Montessori School in Gig Harbor, WA. She holds both her Elementary 1 and Administrator credentials from AMS teacher education programs. Aimee also teaches adult learners at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. Aimee sits on the AMS Board of Directors and is currently the chair of the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee.