As we continue our study of virtues January is a great month to focus on courage. Courage is a big virtue – with physical, moral, intellectual, and civic dimensions. At each program level we address different dimensions of courage, but at all levels we stress that courage is not being “unafraid”; it is moving beyond fear in order to accomplish a higher good. To quote Plato “courage is knowing what things are truly to be feared.”
Our goal is to not to make students reckless and oblivious to danger but to present lives and stories that speak to the human will to act when necessary – despite pressure to the contrary. Martin Luther King’s Day always provides an excellent opportunity to show case moral and civic courage in action – as do King’s own words on the nature of courage and action for change.
There are many books for younger children on overcoming fear such as
The Rabbit who overcame Fear – Dharma Publishing
Sometimes I’m Scared – by Jane Annunziata & Marc A Nemiroff
For older children there are many examples of courageous people throughout history. Children are always intrigued by stories about children treated as less then because of their race or ethnicity and people immigrating to the United States only to face more struggles that they imagined. The students’ reaction is one of disbelief. They struggle to understand why anyone would treat another person in any of these ways; they are rightly appalled. With their untarnished perspective of the world they question why we, the adults of the past and present, allow these things to persist? Why did we not create the changes needed to protect and preserve the people of our world?
Education for peace is a central focus of the Montessori curriculum. As Dr. Montessori stated, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.” As our children move through their school years, history reveals itself. Our children want to create change and to treat people in the same ways, no matter who they are. As educators, we must help them to find those ways, to right those wrongs and to learn how to make a difference. They are creating the future. And we are there by their side to stand with them, answer the questions and guide them along the way. Peace education is a critical aspect of educating children. Thank you Dr. King, Dr. Montessori and all of those who went before us leading the way for our future.