Happy 149th, Maria Montessori
Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate Maria Montessori’s 149th birthday, on Friday. It was such a relaxed time and the children were having lots of fun with one another.
Alexander, one of our Upper Elementary children, made it around the sun 30 times before his feet were just too tired! In our traditional Celebration of Life, the birthday child would carry a globe around the sun once for each year of their life, stopping each time to commemorate that year.
Alexander’s journey, in Dr. Montessori’s stead, got me to wondering how Dr. Montessori would feel about her life accomplishments. After her last lecture, she was presented with flowers and a standing ovation. I can almost hear the pain and resignation in her voice, when she said something to the effect of, “I have spent my entire career asking you to stop following me.” She pointed an arthritic, ringed finger at the child who handed her flowers, “Follow the child.” Like so many people, who work toward peace (eg, Fred Rogers), she ended her life feeling like she didn’t accomplish her goals. In fact, she died while planning to lead another Montessori training, in Kenya.
Yet, here we are, 67 years after her death, still doing her work. Twenty thousand Montessori schools around the world work with us. On September 21, the International Day of Peace, children in those Montessori schools will join forces to sing for peace for 24 straight hours. And here, in our own little neck of the woods, four children revisit an earlier lesson, wondering, “Why is defense a human need? We should all be able to share.”
As we celebrate her life, let us take her lessons to heart: What are our children telling us?