Magazine article Montessori Life

Navigating an Uncertain Future

Magazine article Montessori Life

Navigating an Uncertain Future

Article excerpt

Candidates who were vying to be leaders of the free world during the 2016 U.S. presidential election engaged in mudslinging that left me and my family dumbfounded. It's behind us, yet the residual effects of some of the vitriol have had a profound effect on our country. As my family crossed back into the U.S. from Canada after a recent visit, my husband, who is French, with a Spanish last name, was subjected to 20 minutes of questioning and then fingerprinted, despite being a green card resident. I can't imagine how other children of immigrant families and their friends feel and how are they able to concentrate in school.

Additionally, the public is still grappling with "fake news" As a parent and a j ournalist, I've had conversations with colleagues, parents, and teachers and read numerous articles in an effort to understand all of this, including what it means to be a leader. I reached out to two heads of Montessori schools to find out what kinds of conversations were happening in their communities and how they were utilizing Montessori beliefs and practices to support their students and help them move forward.

It's important for schools to maintain their dedication to the core values that make us Montessori, said Susan Kambrich, head of Woodland Hill Montessori School, in Rensselaer, NY, in a recent letter to her community. She emphasized that while we hold varying political views, what we share is our approach to education and our beliefs about the way we should treat each other. Kambrich stressed how crucial it is not only to continue to teach our children to be respectful and kind to each other but also to reassure them that they are in a school (or a home) that values diversity, freedom of speech, and respect for others. "We know that this is what makes America great," she said.

At Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, in New York City, the approach of head of school Martha Haakmat and her team is to incorporate the conversation into the curriculum. Early Childhood teachers talked to their students about what an election is and discussed the school's values of respect, diversity, and inclusion. Lower Elementary teachers facilitated the same types of conversations, in addition to exploring the electoral college as part of their Math unit. …

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