Anti-Racism in the Montessori Community
There’s a lot of noise, anger, and questions floating around, and we determined it would be best to take time away from posting about daily life on our blog and social media to learn and reflect. As educators we know how hard it is to share humanity’s painful history with our young people, and the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has reminded us how much work we need to do, everyday.
With our own family, the last few weeks has looked like an emphasis on research over speculation. Instead of spreading more fear and gossip around what’s happening with Covid and BLM protesting, I am asking us to look at everything with more curiosity. We are practicing using phrases like, “I wonder what will happen in the fall; will we be in school or will we be learning from home?” instead of, “I know how bad this is going to get, it’s going to be so scary and change everything forever” or, “Can you believe that person in the store not wearing a mask?”
Along with these wonderings come big feelings which we’re working through daily as a family. We want to educate ourselves and our own children on race and what different cultures look like. We’re talking about what is going on in the world and answering their questions as well as bringing more books and resources into our environment. We will keep working to help our children understand race, equity and how to help make this world a more peaceful place.
My most important job is to help create curious learners who want to explore and find answers for themselves. If I give them fear, they will be afraid. If I give them curiosity, then they will wonder and search. In pursuit of this I have begun to sift through the lists of anti-racism resources (like this one compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein) circulating the Montessori community to add to our multicultural collection of books and activities. I want to be curious and free in my discoveries, modeling this inquisitiveness on my way to becoming a better educator and mom. My hope is that by giving them these tools I allow them to continue on their own path of wonder.
One such book is Shades of People by Shelley Rotner, a lovely exploration of the physical traits that differ between us. Our girls love the simple real life images and full color on each page. I’ve also come across this wonderful list of 24 books with black protagonists by black authors, which we are looking to add to our collection.
I have been struggling with the next right step; if we avoid talking about racism and stay silent out of fear, guilt, and shame then we allow ignorance into our lives, and that cycle can hopefully be broken through active education and pursuit of knowledge and diversity. As quoted in Simone Davies’ recent blog post, Crysta Bloom (or The Kind Cocoa Mama) writes, “Montessori has the potential to benefit children from all walks of life and all abilities. So I challenge us all to stay mindful about the Montessori spaces we are involved in. Are they diverse? Do these spaces seek to include children, parents, and educators across all cultures, races, and abilities? Take notice of your Instagram feed, playdates, and classrooms. Does everyone that you are learning from and learning with look like you? Let us offer our children a colorful, rich learning environment full of opportunities to expand their understanding of the world and their role in it. This is the sacred work of the parent.”
Take care of yourselves, and be the lovely humans you are as educators and parents. As difficult as things may seem, I am inspired by the revolutionary outpouring of love. We’ll begin posting more adventures from the farm, Montessori, and peaceful healing inspiration. Here's a link to our Anti-racism resource roundup page. Follow us on Instagram or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.
Megan and the Montessori 123 Team