Magazine article Montessori Life

Celebrating What Matters

Magazine article Montessori Life

Celebrating What Matters

Article excerpt

As we approach the end-of-year holidays, I always find myself thinking about the many celebrations we have participated in at Richmond Montessori School (RMS). My two boys have attended RMS for 10 and 9 years, respectively, so there have been quite a few. When the boys were in primary level, we cooked turkeys for the Thanksgiving feasts. They were huge potluck affairs, usually combining two or more primary classes. Thanks to a wonderful and very persistent primary teacher, I can no longer stand the smell of turkey cooking. The last time my family had turkey for Thanksgiving was the year I cooked five turkeys in the span of two days. In my boys' classes, there were always several students who were celebrating their first Thanksgiving. My kids delighted in sharing the story of Thanksgiving with these children, who in turn shared tales of similar celebrations from their cultures.

During Christmas and Hanukkah seasons, RMS also becomes actively involved in programs such as "adopting" a family and creating a holiday tree decorated with mittens and scarves for those less fortunate. Many RMS students are raised in cultures that don't celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, so they hear the stories of these holidays for the first time at school. They, in turn, share similar holiday stories from their cultures. The lesson seems to be that the sharing across different cultures is the great achievement in these particular celebrations. This is quite different from my experience. I grew up in a steel town just east of Pittsburgh in the '50s and '60s; the vast majority of the population was Roman Catholic and Italian American. It was a nurturing and loving upbringing, but I didn't see how other people lived, which can cause lasting fear of other cultures and suspicions of those who are different.

On the flip side, children at schools like RMS are provided a tremendous opportunity to know and understand people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. …

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