Following World War I and the Great Depression leading into World War II, Maria Montessori made a dramatic plea for the pursuit of peace. In 1932, 7 years prior to the beginning of World War II and 29 years before the first human being journeyed into space, she addressed a convention at the international Office of Education in Geneva, notes taken from this meeting we’re subsequently published in Italian as Education of Peace, and in 1943 an English translation, Peace and Education, was issued by the theosophical society in India.
With a vision rare for the early 1930s, Montessori predicted the space-age and the global catastrophes which could result from this new dimension in transportation and exploration. The conquest of gravity she felt would bring about changes comparable to a new geological or biological period. War between countries would no longer make sense and the necessary cooperation among nations could only be brought about by a higher level of human beings, free from self-serving greed and blind obedience to national leaders. Such Superior adults, she felt, could emerge only from children whose natural gifts were nursed in a new type of education.
In the 1930s Maria Montessori was in her sixties. Already distinguished with an international reputation for revolutionizing the education of the young child, she traveled to peace conferences and Brussels, London, Copenhagen and Utrecht to give voice to her convictions about the true meaning of peace and how to obtain it. Strengthened by her 30 years of success in bucking the traditional practices of child-rearing and pedagogy, Maria Montessori had the courage to pursue the Monumental task of reforming Humanity in order to establish peace and Justice in the world.
Overtime, our plan here in the near future, is to present significant excerpts from the Indian edition of Peace and Education, as they were edited by Aline D. Wolf, for clarity, style and gender; in which she took particular care to preserve their original meaning. The purpose of these passages is to make Montessori’s insights on peace through education as well known as her ingenious classroom materials. Maria Montessori’s words challenge all Montessori teachers: indeed they challenge all people who hope for peace in the world.Edited Introduction from Peaceful Children, Peaceful World – The Challenge of Maria Montessori