Earlier this term I had the utmost privilege of attending the 28th International Montessori Congress, ‘Pathway to Peace: Montessori Education for Social Change,’ held in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic.
Not only was I excited to be attending my first ever International Congress, but the enormity and diversity of my fellow attendees was incredibly inspiring as 1800 of us assembled in the Convention Centre in readiness for the Opening Ceremony. Together we represented 71 countries from around the world!
Through amazing keynote speakers, breakout sessions and interesting panels the following Congress Pillars were embedded and addressed over the 4 day period :
Self; the basis for peace
- Montessori truly recognises the potential of each human being, each individual personality and respects the natural laws of his/her development. The child is the creator of future harmony and peace on the planet.
Others; the family and education for peace
- Montessori acknowledges that the child is the universal source of love and emotion. When the child’s potential is nurtured at home and in school and when he/she is guided by love of the environment and people around him/her, he/she will love all humanity.
Society; the agents of social change
- Montessori seeks to educate the personality that finds its roots in nature’s norms evolving in an optimally prepared environment. When these conditions are met, children achieve a high degree of self-realisation and focus in life’s pursuits and become the agents of positive social change.
Universe; peace and ecological unity
- The opportunity to meet and share with teachers from all around the world was a unique experience. Whether over morning coffee, during workshops or sitting waiting for guest speakers, it was wonderful to hear the different experiences and stories that each person freely offered. With contacts forged it will be exciting to see if we can somehow link up our young charges with children across the other side of the world.
It is extremely difficult to put into a few words all of the things that I heard, learnt, and experienced throughout these four days. However, the following are a couple of key items that have either resonated or ‘hit a chord’ with me whether to inspire, challenge or spend time reflecting and mulling over……..
- Embedded in the programming of this Congress, was an Adolescent Summit with young people from around the world coming together for five days to work with Montessori and NGO experts who acted as mentors and guides in their pursuits to design social action projects for their local communities. What an amazing experience to first see all of these young attendees take the stage and then have the opportunity to hear the students from the Philippines share their project with great confidence, passion and commitment. Their parting phrase giving rise to a standing ovation……
”Adolescents may be 50% of the population but we are 100% the future”.
- Srikumar Rao shared a Keynote address entitled, “How to eliminate stress and craft a perfect life”. How enlightening and entertaining this proved to be as he provocatively stated that our stress comes from our quest to control every aspect of our lives regardless of the fact that we never had nor will ever have control. He went on to offer alternative ways of viewing life and offer strategies to employ in order to create a mind shift. Amongst his suggestions he shared the notion ‘be other centred’…… challenging us to think about whether we want to get up each day and either break rocks or build a Cathedral…..both can be the same but it is all in the way we view it.
“What we do not care for we will not grow up to protect”.
From 3 time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr Scilla Elworthy, to Paul Gilding, Former CEO of Greenpeace, the list of speakers and their messages were not only empowering, but reaffirmed the natural fit between Montessori education and the knowledge, skills and attitudes that our children are going to need to face the future.
I look forward to the conversations that are yet to be had here in the ELC with staff, parents and students and the learning that will continue to emerge from this wonderful experience.