The main topic of discussion, on May 12th, 2023, regarded not avoiding, but dealing with conflict, as a normal part of our day-to-day life. The point of view of two Italian Montessori teachers.

By Luisa Ziliani and Chiara Bevacqua

The point of view of two italian Montessori teachers

When we decided to attend the “Arguing at School” Multiplier Event in Bucharest [ed.: 12.05.2023], we weren’t expecting to find so many applicable Montessori principles to bring back to our school. We noticed many similarities with Maria Montessori’s vision of encouraging autonomy and responsibility while spreading empathy and inclusion, especially when approaching confrontation.

The main topic of discussion, on May 12th , 2023, regarded not avoiding, but dealing with conflict, as a normal part of our day-to-day life and as key to creating a nonviolent community in which emotional literacy is promoted and communication skills are taught and experienced.

These are important concepts not only for schools, considering each child’s self-knowledge and expression together with the spreading of correct strategies to deal with arguments.

Differences are values…

Consequently, different opinions are seen as a value and not as an obstacle. All connected to Montessori’s widely discussed optimistic vision of the child as able to build a new peaceful world and education as able to form free and responsible future world citizens. A theory that shows how modern Montessori still is nowadays about a lot of our current world events!

Letting children quarrel is a valued opportunity for children to learn life skills while teachers can learn how to trust the potential inside of every child, finally becoming a guide and no longer a judge.

…and a different role for the teacher

In this way, the teacher’s main goals become creating a safe space where children can argue and giving them the right tools. This is exactly what Montessorian teachers do every day in their classes not necessarily about arguing, but in relation to their individual learning process.

The empowerment by sharing experiences

It was also really interesting to have the main theme – arguing at school – examined from different points of view: not only teachers and children, but also parents, and even policy makers. Such an approach provided all participants with a wider perspective of the actions that are to be taken, and created a shared awareness of future steps and different interdependent contexts of interest.

While examining issues and solutions, the stimulating exchange with partners from the different European countries involved, was, in our opinion, one of the most interesting moments of the event.

We appreciated listening to experiences and questions of participants which we found profoundly similar to our own. We, therefore, recommend a similar Erasmus experience to whomever may be interested.

What’s next?

We find ourselves looking forward to our new project meeting in Croatia [ed.: a learning week planned for August] for greater input on the practical methods presented. We’re also eager to discover the possible connections of these methods with Le Conseil de coopération by Danielle Jasmin, a practice she took and adapted from Célestin Freinet, and that is currently used in many Montessori classes.