“The child is the builder of humanity.”
My thoughts before going to bed on election eve, and then again upon awakening the next morning were along these lines: What will the children think? Will they feel like we duped them? Will they stop believing what we teach them with every breath, every day, in every classroom?
I was filled with a profound sadness, a reluctance that came from knowing how deeply our students would feel the results of this election. It would change their world view, for sure. Our most precious children, our bright, optimistic, heartfelt and life-loving students. Our peacemakers and advocates for those in need.
Really, what could we possibly tell them that would make this okay?
For many of our students the results of this election would be the first time they would have to face the reality that the country they know, is not the reality for many. And that, although they can’t completely understand, there are systems in place that sometimes serve to prolong injustice and that respect for all is not necessarily a common virtue.
This election would be a life
changing moment for them.
“If we mind the child as our most precious treasure, we will be working for the greatness of humanity.” Montessori
Our job as educators is to prepare our students for the world they will inherit. As Montessorians, we prepare them to be active agents in their world. So, the reality is that although I desperately wish it weren’t so, perhaps we have misled these children. For the rest of humanity, life on earth does not yet involve a peaceful coexistence with others. Their dismay-and mine- would be due in great part to our privileged and wonderful lives. Lives most people on earth, and even the US, don’t have.
The reality is that our children
will have much work to do.
And that is precisely what we told them. Work hard. Learn to write well and speak articulately. They will need to excel as communicators. And perhaps most importantly, exercise their heart muscles. Be diligent in working through conflict, develop expertise in the art of respectful dialogue. Become masterful at listening to the point of view of others. The work they do every day at school matters because before they know it, they will be voting. Before they know it, they will be going out into the world. They will then have power to influence events and we believe in them. They matter, our most precious treasure, because humanity depends upon them.
As is so often the case, solace and renewal of purpose arrived in the form of an EAC Facebook post by an alum:
“I remember sitting on the gym floor in January of 2009, wide eyed and hopeful, as the whole school gathered to watch President Obama’s inauguration. After so many Martin Luther King Jr. day celebrations, it felt surreal to watch history take such a momentous step forward. Today I am heartbroken and saddened– I can’t imagine how EAC feels. But regardless of the hate in the world,
I want to thank you for incessantly preaching peace, acceptance and love. I am forever grateful for the passion and hope you instilled in me. I carry that with me everyday, and especially through the next four years.”
So many of our families work to make an EAC education possible. Thank you. Your belief in our mission matters beyond each individual child. Your belief in our mission matters, because our mission matters.