Local/Global: Education and Peace at Metro
Inside the Hive
As the country is gearing up for midterm elections, Metro students are setting their sights at both very local and global issues. Social life of any size is political, and Metro prepares adolescents for citizenship writ large.
Metro education is local: Every year, the Metro community, half of it rising fresh from 6th grade, collaborates to create a Code of Civility, that is, agreements and expectations for conduct as a member of Metro. We think in advisory (our mixed-aged small social groups), then as a whole community about our values and how to live by these values. Representatives of each advisory then bring drafts together and craft a Code. This year, it looks like it will be a song and dance! We read the Code in our weekly Council, a whole-community meeting where we discuss business, issues, and exchange gratitudes, to remind ourselves who we strive to be.
This year for the first time, Metro is also working on Land Acknowledgments in the context of Civic Conversations class. We explored the history of local tribes, considered the relationship between indigenous peoples and colonizers as well as the legacy of this relationship for us today. We looked into examples of Land Acknowledgments and at indigenous art associated with Land Acknowledgments to inspire our own work. We examined varying relationships to land and culture and discussed the intricacies of cultural appropriation vs. appreciation.
In the next couple of weeks, students will create their own dynamic Land Acknowledgments, individually or in pairs. The small size is intentional, we want to be able to take our Land Acknowledgments with us and share them wherever we go. They are dynamic in the sense that the words spoken or images used can vary depending on when and how we call upon them, but the essence of the message, just like the Code, stays the same: we want to acknowledge the legacies of violence and displacement, but also celebrate the vibrancy of our indigenous contemporaries and take responsibility for our place, both physical and social, in words and actions.
Metro education is global: at the same time, 24 of our students are setting out to participate in Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) class, a year-long experience for students ages 9-15 that offers them the opportunity to interact globally to create solutions to current world issues using the format of the United Nations. Watch the video.
At Metro, 7th graders are rising to the challenge of this class for the first time; the class requires deep research into issues the “real” UN community is working on, ranging from biodiversity and sustainable development, to houselessness , the rights of children, and the cultivation of peace. Students write Position Papers from the perspective of the countries they represent (this year, we are representing Sweden, Mali, Argentina, and Nepal) and prepare Opening Speeches that encapsulate their ideas for solutions in just 60 seconds.
8th graders are embarking on these deep dives for the second time: they are ready and extra motivated, because they will be going to New York City in March to participate in a large international conference (before COVID, 2,000 students would participate) and possibly have the opportunity to present their Resolutions in the United Nations Headquarters! There is nothing more powerful than to negotiate with students from around the globe to create meaningful change in a simulation this close to reality.
In addition, 7th and 8th graders come together in a practice conference in the middle of December, guided this year by a recent Metro alumni, Mckenna Kelsall, who just trained to serve on the MMUN Bureau!
These local and global exercises are deeply political in the sense that all social life is political. To be clear we are not talking about party politics here, but about the fact that humans are social animals, compelled to live a collective life with some sort of organization. American democracy goes back to the Greek idea of the polis, the city state as both government and society. Politics then was a total study of man, society, state, morality and so on, and Montessori education follows this holistic orientation.
The legacy of adolescent Montessori education is to work for social and climate justice. Ultimately, Maria Montessori believed that education is the path to making peace. MMUN in particular is an exemplary forum for students to experience how their expertise, creativity, and ability to speak with passion can change the world.
How you can help: MMUN students raise a good portion of the expense for the trip through their own efforts. You may have had your car washed and enjoyed some of the delicious baked goods the team sold during the Harvest Hustle. That is only the beginning! Please look out for fundraisers, or offer your help: if you have a business and are willing to donate a portion of your profits when Childpeace families patronize your business, please let us know by contacting Regina Feldman at email@example.com! Thank you so much for your support for a program that makes students into people who are the change.
"This decade was the first that I read Zen in the Art of Archery, from 1948. My time this Saturday began with the book, where the German professor goes to Japan in the 1920s to teach and picks up archery, and comes away with a deeper understanding of philosophy, spirituality, the universe, and himself. But my Saturday did not begin with archery, rather, with another activity in Japan, only casually mentioned once or twice in the book, where the author referenced his wife's passionate undertaking: flower arranging."