Dear Alexander Montessori Parents and Families:
As we concluded our school year, having witnessed the resilience of our Staff, students, and families, and the joy of our 5th Graders and Kindergarteners as we “graduated” in new ways, we could not help but be torn. As a school, we celebrated an ending and beginning in a novel way. At the same time, as a nation, we are experiencing suffering and turmoil, which has its roots in our history of racial injustice.
As far as we have come as a nation, the killing of George Floyd and its aftermath, reminds us once again that violence, racism, and hatred are still a part of our society, community, and neighborhoods. As Montessorians, we seek to counter those influences. We practice a form of education based on love, intended to be a pathway to understanding, to empathy, and to a better future for humanity.
The United States has civil rights laws intended to protect humans from discrimination, regardless of sex, nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, and disability. However, we see firsthand that citizens and government agents alike must believe in human rights and act on those beliefs, if human rights are to be protected. We seek to nurture this understanding of human rights and respect for others in the children in our Montessori environments.
Children need to feel safe and secure. This is why we encourage families to be selective with how they expose their children to media and news. Our job as adults is to gently guide and educate our children, to protect them, and to help them protect each other. At the same time, children can only be truly protected when they are empowered and guided in age-appropriate ways to learn about and deal with reality.
We have a growth mindset at Alexander Montessori School that reality is not only what we see, but HOW we see it; reality is not only “what is,” but “what is possible.” The best protection is empowerment. Children can feel empowered by the idea that their loving actions can change the world.
We seek not only to protect children from violence, discrimination, and unfair or unequal treatment. We seek to help children be peaceful agents of “love in action,” who act from a place of empathy and kindness and who know themselves as someone who can transform the world. Montessori schools have a special history and role to play in the movement of Education for Peace.
Your family may have personally experienced violence, prejudice, and hate. Your children may be asking some big questions right now. You may have already had some proactive conversations, or you may feel it is time to start conversations at home - about civil rights, violence, and prejudice based on race, religion, ethnicity, and identity. We are including several resources to help support you, and hope that whatever age your child is, you will find a way to begin and further these often difficult, but important conversations.
As the leaders of Alexander Montessori School, we want you to know we are also available for personal conversations about our School’s philosophy, curriculum, and the School’s role in these issues.
We have also included information below, about the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Maria Montessori, and the Montessori movement as they relate to Education for Peace, non-violence, and Civil Rights.
Let us all work together to make all members of our community feel valued, respected, and safe.
Please reach out if you need further help or support. Let us all stand up - with loving words and actions - for what is just and right. And please remember to stay safe.
James and Joyce McGhee,
and the Staff of Alexander Montessori School
Get more Education for Peace and Where We Stand Resources here.