“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” –Dr. Maria Montessori
By definition, Bullying is a willful, conscious desire to hurt, frighten, or threaten. Although it is usually ongoing in nature, it may also consist of a single, intentional incident. Bullying is a series of repeated, intentionally cruel incidents, or threat of harm, which involve the same children, in the same bully and victim roles. It involves an imbalance of power, either real or perceived. It can be physical andor verbal and may include racial, religious and sexual harassment. Additionally, it can include offensive gestures, inappropriate touching, intimidation, extortion and social exclusion. The behavior is designed to intentionally hurt, injure, embarrass, upset or discomfort the other person. Due to the willful and conscious nature, preschool children are not characteristically developmentally capable of carrying out bullying and are often involved in Normal Peer Conflicts.
Over the last decade, we have all been overwhelmed by the “bullying” epidemic in both private and schools. Tragedies, anti-bullying policies and legislation are at the forefront of news reports on a daily basis. Educators and parents have blamed the schools, media, parents, demographic factors, or even American culture itself.
School children in Montessori Academies see less bullying than those in more traditional quarters. In fact, some years pass along without an incident of any kind. Bullying is simply not part of our day here. Why not?
The traditional Montessori method and philosophy center around empathy, peace, and problem-solving; as well as respect for all people and materials. Integral to Montessori is a proactive approach: preventing frustration, anger, and loss of self-control – elements that often incite or contribute to bullying. Montessori education provides children with the tools and a deep desire to empathize with each other and sort things out quickly amongst themselves - or with the gentle guidance of a teacher. Montessori children are encouraged to engage in discussions to resolve their differences, express their feelings, and show empathy to others. It’s amazing, how quickly the children find solutions that work.
In the homogeneous setting of a traditional classroom, where all children are the same age and doing the same work, children often find a need to compare and separate themselves. Otherwise, what will make each child special? But in the heterogeneous Montessori setting, there is less need to compare oneself to another. Instead, children work for the love of work, and they aspire to the greater because, the older children are always present. Instead of separation, there is inherent unity, much like one would see in a large family of children all working for the common good of the whole.