Celebrating the International Day of Peace: Suggested Student Activities, Plus a Letter from The AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee
In celebration of International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on September 21, we are excited to offer this space to founding AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee Member, Judi Bauerlein as she shares resources and reflections on Peace Education in Montessori.
The AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee serves as an inspiration and resource for weaving concepts of peace, equity, humanitarianism, and world citizenship into Montessori venues and beyond.
From spearheading efforts that address global or national crises, such as systemic racism and bias, to helping teachers make connections that build understanding and friendship, committee members are active and responsive. They know that as engaged and compassionate citizens of the world, Montessori educators contribute to their communities in myriad ways, and they welcome your participation.
Resources from Members of the AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee
Music & Song
- I Will Be Gentle With Myself (3:54)
- Peace Round (1:12)
- Light a Candle for Peace (2:09)
- Inner Peace by Beautiful Chorus (4:06)
- Everything I Need by Geminelle (3:49)
- Dolphin Dreams by Jonathan Goldman (Full album: 1 hour 5 minutes)
- Chakra Suite by Steven Halpern (Full album: 1 hour 13 minutes)
"We use this relaxation CD at naptime for the younger children who still nap. It is supposed to help one with alpha waves and balance the chakras. It is also helpful for the adults in the nap room. Originally, we had tried classical music in the nap room; however we sometimes were surprised partway through by a lively, vigorous passage just as children were beginning to nap! We thought classical might work better at lunchtime or some other time of day."— Carolyn Kambich
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I see your beauty
I hear your need
I feel your feelings
My wisdom flows from the highest source
I salute that source in you
Let us work together
For unity and peace.
- Polly Castor: Short Poems for Peace by Children
- Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
- Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Professor Camille T. Dungy
For a more in-depth look at peace and social justice education, and to work toward creating a culture of compassion, kindness, and equitability in your classrooms and organizations, we also encourage you to bookmark this page dedicated to resources for anti-bias, antiracist education on the AMS website.
Interested in learning more or joining the AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
An Open Letter from Judi Bauerlein
Dear Sowers of Seeds,
Somehow this name seemed right since when Maria Montessori was asked “How many seeds should we sow?” She answered, “as many as possible!”
As the Celebration of the International Day of Peace approaches, those of us who were drawn to Dr. Montessori’s Education for Peace are especially aware of our commitment to live her words and rededicate ourselves to the seeds of peace that she has sowed. She has written extensively about the preparation and transformation necessary to become a Montessori educator. Here is just one of many examples:
“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.”
— Maria Montessori
What an instruction! How to love and understand “the Universe.” There is so much incredible information that we were given in our Montessori cosmic education. The findings from the Hubble Telescope and now the Nash certainly increase our understanding and amazements. It has been written that the scientists and physicists observing the new findings have become the new mystics.
All About Allurements
I want to share with you some of what I have been learning from the Cosmology courses that I have been taking through the Deep Time Network. These courses have been an incredible source of excitement and inspiration from scientists, physicists, astronomers, spiritual guides, and participants from around the world. My love of Montessori’s Cosmic Education and her vision for world peace deepened as did my “love” of the Universe and my internal feeling of peace. I was especially drawn to the concept of “allurements.” I asked Sarbmeet Kanwal (one of our enlightened presenters whose TED Talk can be seen on YouTube) for the clearest definition of “allurement.”
I am writing down his casual thoughts while he was reflecting:
Allurement is anything that makes you want to know more: an idea, a desire, an urge that starts a trigger inside you and needs to be evolved.
Then he said to me, for example, the first time you heard about Montessori’s idea of education was the “trigger” that urged you on to learn more and evolve your intense commitment to Montessori. So true!!
“Brian Swimme has said, ‘The universe is a glorious outpouring of being.’ Since all being is evoked through allurements, one can say that the ‘universe is a glorious flow of allurement.’
Becoming aware of our allurements is to find an entrance into the cosmic flow… they take residence in our flesh and blood and become an expression of who we are…” — An expert from one of Sarbmeet Kanwal’s writings
To me, being passionately connected to our allurements does help create peace within that spills out to our students, our work, and our global connection. I know that it helped me to identify one of my early “allurements” that has given me peace during difficult, pressured times.
I was reflecting back on my time on a farm in Kansas and recognizing that it was being in nature and specifically climbing trees that has “become an expression of who [I] am.”
You may wish to reflect back to your childhood and slowly breathe. Enter that space. Picture being outside. Feel your sense of place—the textures, sounds, sights, smells, and what attracted you. What made you feel quiet peace? What made you be filled with wonder? What made you amazed? Embrace this moment. As you slowly move towards your present, consider what brings you peace and fills you with wonder at this moment. These spontaneous connections are “allurements.”
Staying aware of our own “allurements” will keep us enthused and natural as we allow and support the students to explore that which keeps them connected to the natural world. Montessori clearly and dramatically emphasized this vital truth in so many of her books and lectures.
Here is one of many such messages:
"How often is the soul of man, especially that of the child, deprived because one does not put him in contact with nature... There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees and all the life to be found around them in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. The wood reveals that it is not only the trees that exist, but a whole collection of lives. And this earth, this climate, this cosmic power, are necessary for the development of all these lives. The myriads of lives around the trees, the majesty, the variety, are things one must hunt for, and which no one can bring into the school." — Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence
The wisdom of Rachel Carson is another strong plea for children to never lose their inborn connection to the natural world:
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year… the alienation from the sources of our strength.” – Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
She goes on to say that if the fairies are not there to support the child, there needs to be at least one adult helping to keep the child’s sense of wonder alive. I often think that we just might be that one adult.
Mary Oliver summarized her thoughts on the importance of experiencing wonder.
“Instructions for Living a Life:
Tell about it.”
I have recently discovered Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants. I felt a connection to the following chapters especially and wished that all “Sowers” felt her wisdom.
- “Asters and Goldenrods”
- “The Sound of Silver Bells”
- “The Language of Animacy”
Recommended Activities for Students
Starting the Day
- Read Byrd Baylor’s Way to Start a Day—a marvelous look at various cultures with incredible illustrations.
- Have the time of sunrise ready and suggest that they each be that “one more person in one more place to greet the day.”
- The next day ask them to write about and describe their experience.
- In my class, I have asked students to write on long strips of yellow paper. Have a large sun illustration—perhaps on the bulletin board—and attach the strips around the sun. Each morning one of the greetings is read and magic can happen!
- Read Byrd Bayor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations.
- Ask the students: What celebrations have they experienced that were so powerful that they would like to “be in charge of?”
- Dirt Activity
- Go outside, find some dirt, and just feel it.
- At lunch, have the students look at what they will be eating and then thank the ones who sowed the seeds, raised the animal, watered the earth, harvested the ground, etc. In other words, appreciate the entire process.
- Check out Getting Dirty is Good for Health in National Wildlife.
- Rob Dunn, biologist, science writer, and author of The Wild Life of our Bodies, maintains that exposure to a larger number and diversity of microbes in dirt may be essential to ward off illness and to prevent allergies.
- Listen to and sing Dirt you Made my Lunch by the Banana Slug String Band and Earthy Tunes by Mary Miche.
- Consider reading Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood and The People Who Hugged the Trees by Deborah Lee Rose.
- Read about trees in every way possible. Consider reading the research on how they communicate.
- Read some of the many books that discuss—either factually or in story form—about trees.
- Model drawing a big heart and quickly fill in some of your gratitude words before the students begin their own Heart Gratitude Map.
There is a song that I learned from Margy Knollman during my 6 – 12 teacher education. I love this song for several reasons. The lyrics speak quietly of our connection to the stars and the students loved singing and dancing to it.
There is a beautiful version entitled Hymn to the Russian Earth on Paul Winter's album Concert for the Earth. On YouTube there are videos of people singing and dancing.
In the image below, consider the song “Spirit of Peace.'' It is a powerful supplication for Peace. My friend who taught me this blessing learned it at her Sufi dancing class. Consider the dance instructions below:
“Spirit of Peace”
The students are in a circle with hands on each other's shoulders. They chant the words and move to the left in a grape vine movement.
“To your cause we give our strength”
Drop arms and walk slowly in a circle.
“Love reigns; wars will cease”
Raise arms high as they turn in a circle.
“Earth, Peace, Earth.”
Bow to center.
We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans and squashes, which give us life.
We return thanks to the wind which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.
May the sun bring you new energy by day.
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being.
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.
May the peace within you and within your students shine ever more brightly on the day to focus on and celebrate global peace and justice.
— Judi Bauerlein
About the Author
Judi Bauerlein has been involved in Montessori as a parent, a grandparent, and an educator in 3 – 6, 6 – 9, and 9 – 12 classrooms. In 1974, she began teaching adult learners and has been fortunate to teach in programs nationally and internationally ever since. In 1975, she began one of the first Montessori programs in the public schools. Judi has served on the AMS Board of Directors, is a past Living Legacy recipient, and helped to establish the AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee.
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The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.