Events Montessori Highlights Montessori Centenary Conference Geneva

A Montessori Peace Manifestation in Geneva - 21, 22 September 2007

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A Montessori Peace Manifestation in Geneva - September 21 and 22 - 2007

Article and Photos by Elisabeth Houweling

A new peace movement the Association 21” has been established in Geneva by “Ecole Montessori de Genève”- who celebrates their fiftieth anniversary – in partnership with the association “Le respect ça change la vie” and other groups.

Mr. Adolf Ogi - ex President of Switzerland and today Conseiller spécial du Secretaire général des Nations Unies pour le sport au service du développement et de la paix -  has written a « Peace Message » to support this peace day, which was organized to confer honour and great respect on behalf of Maria Montessori. Mr. Ogi stated that this peace day created an excellent opportunity to put an end to all conflicts and violence in the whole world. Today all populations and nations are invited to stop hostility and to shake hands in reconciliation. Mr. Ogi quoted that: « La fête pour la Paix met l’accent sur l’éducation à la paix en commémorant la mémoire de Madame Montessori qui, au travers de ses recherches pédagogiques, s’est attachée à promouvoir un plus grand respect pour les enfants et une attention particulière à leur formation ».

This peace happening was encouraged by the Montessori Centenary organization. The committee of honour was guaranteed by the following Montessori representatives: Renilde Montessori, Luciano Mazzetti (Perugia) and Pietro de Santis (Rome).

The peace festival started successfully on Friday evening September 21, in the well known Geneva Victoria Hall - constructed between 1891 and 1894 - with the unforgettable concert of Coro et Orchestra della Basilica papale di San Francisco in Assisi, directed by Padre Giuseppe Magrino OFM conv. More than 1000 people attended the magnificent concert in this hall, decorated with lovely classical, golden ornaments. A very suitable place for remembering that peace in the world is still an urgent item and that children have a part and a say in it too. Directly after the concert children and adults alike, did sent about 300 white peace balloons in the dark evening sky. Each balloon contained a peace message - transmitted via internet - by any child of the world. The sight of those white, illuminated balloons was fascinating.

Patricia Spinelli from Paris spoke the next morning in the Geneva Ramada Encore Hotel about “Les racines de la paix”. She talked about the internal and external world of the 0-6 year old child. The child explores the world or “the group” on the condition that his development has taken place in relation to others - starting with his mother - and when he has constructed positive memories about those experiences. The racines de la paix - peace roots - are situated in the body of the child and the internalized exchanges with the physical group of people of his environment. In the Montessori pedagogy the internal activity is born by manipulating with materials. Then through the attention and concentration established, the child starts loving things and living creatures. And this is a key element in the important task of education and the building of peace.

In the afternoon at 13.30 H “La fête du foot” started. All Geneva children interested in playing football for peace and for fun were invited to perform football matches. At 16.30 H “Gaëtan en concert” was performed outdoors and the peace festival ended with a very optimistic, lively and cheerful dinner party for all groups and guests involved.

Laurence and Blaise Theus – Allenbach of “Ecole Montessori de Genève”, have shown us in an excellent manner, that education for Montessori children can be combined with the work for peace in co-operation with other peace movements. All these organizations have in mind to establish peace in this world, starting with the newborn child. Everybody could contribute to this peace campaign by contacting the related site and leaving a peace message on ; the communication will fly into the dark on September 21 2008 in order to accomplish a new, illuminated sky journey.

Elisabeth Houweling