Maria Montessori. We are the World. We ARE the Children.

ithinkyoushould: Embrace Multiculturalism

Today began like any other day:

Wake up to girls piled on top of us,
A few nudges and groans, plus barely audible “good mornings”
Soft, warm, girly kisses, tight little bear hugs and then it’s off to the showers.
A debate on what to wear, what to eat, what to drink. Make lunches, make coffee and then
Pile into the Minivan to hopefully arrive at school on time.

maria_montessoriThese days our early morning jam is How I Got Over by The Roots, followed by Lenny Kravitz, I Want to Fly. Our girls aged 5 and 2 request each song respectively from my music-head husband. Yes, little J* is a fan of Lenny Kravitz and The Kings of Leon. She likes to rock-out. “Look at me!” she says pumping her head up and down and shaking her fist from her little carseat in the back. It’s priceless. A*, my 5 year old also has eclectic tastes and her go-to of late is Alicia Keyes. Personally, I can’t take the straining of Alicia’s voice, but we do enjoy her piano and song-writing abilities. Prior to Alicia, she was a big Feist fan.

When we arrive at school it is Multicultural Day. And what a celebration! We visit Zambia, Trinidad & Tobago, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tibet, Spain and Kanata [Canada]. The presentations are fabulous. Each child is expertly dressed in the garb according to each country s/he represents and the rooms are fully decorated with the important traditions, products and daily life habits particular to each culture. It is inspiring! We are given a quick tutorial on the currency of each country, what each person in that culture eats, what they do for entertainment and the religious beliefs they practice. I learn what the men and women do to contribute to the success of their lives and I am able to pick up the traditional greetings used to say simple things like hello, welcome, good-bye and good day. The students in the older grades make models of the indigenous habitats of the people to rival any architectural firm’s model and are very enthusiastic to show each parent the materials they used to construct theml. In Saudi Arabia, we are treated to a little performance while music blares in the background. In fact, as we enter each country, we are able to listen to the music particular to that region. It is awesome to say the least!

Driving back home I am filled with a sense of appreciation and wonder. How many of us actually get to participate in something so impactful and life-changing this early in the morning? Probably not many, because most of us just get up, do our routine, and then plug into the system of things that are germane to our own little worlds, never mind the world that exists outside of our imagination or experience.

This morning we were called to step outside of our world, and step into somebody else’s world. It was life-changing. It was life-changing in the sense that you could see the little transformation taking place in each child as he or she prepared to learn and appreciate each culture and the difference and similarities inherent in each, without prejudice or preference. These children were able to discuss those cultures as if they were an extension of themselves. And they were so proud. I was able to see the respect level that each child had for each different country knowing that children rarely if ever notice difference and instead embrace what is new and interesting with fresh eyes. Preparing for a Multicultural Day is indeed one of the best examples of seeing how the “Absorbent Mind” works.

And as much as I think there is still so much that we can learn from one another, I believe even more in the power of what we can learn from children. They really do have a “straight-up” way of perceiving the world with honesty and integrity. At least this is what a Montessori education teaches.





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