Women’s History Month Begins on March 1st
Posted on February 23rd, 2022

Chandra Fernando, Educational Consultant, USA

The Italian educator and physician Maria Montessori (1870–1952) is best known for the teaching method that bears her name. She was also a lifelong pacifist, although historians tend to consider her writings on this topic as secondary to her pedagogy. In The Best Weapon for Peace: Maria Montessori, Education, and Children’s Rights .Erica Moretti reframes Montessori’s pacifism as the foundation for her educational activism, emphasizing her vision of the classroom as a gateway to reshaping society. Montessori education offers a child-centered learning environment that cultivates students’ development as peaceful, curious, and resilient adults opposed to war and invested in societal reform.

Using newly discovered primary sources, Moretti examines Montessori’s lifelong pacifist work, including her ultimately unsuccessful push for the creation of the White Cross, a humanitarian organization for war-affected children. Moretti shows that Montessori’s educational theories and practices would come to define children’s rights once adopted by influential international organizations, including the United Nations. She uncovers the significance of Montessori’s evolving philosophy of peace and early childhood education within broader conversations about internationalism and humanitarianism. (Published by the University of Wisconsin press)

Post Script: Montessori schools around the world, unlike those in Sri Lanka educate children from toddlers through high school using the Montessori method. This is mostly prevalent in Europe, South America and North America including such countries as Canada and the United States.

Some famous Montessori students have been the founders of Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Anne Frank the young girl who wrote, The Diary of Anne Frank before the Nazis sent her to a death camp. Others have included the former co-owner of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham and actresses Helen Hunt and Melissa Gilbert.

Chandra Fernando, Educational Consultant, USA

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