Williamsburg Montessori School has added another component to a wide array of hands-on learning experiences it offers in its Middle School program: Montessori Model UN (MMUN). Like the traditional Model UN counterpart, MMUN provides a simulation of the UN general assembly and other multilateral bodies.
Upon announcing the program, Middle School Humanities teacher Corinna Ferro was swarmed with interested 6th - 8th grade students, resulting in 100% participation.
In a program that already involves students in authentic learning experiences, the students at WMS have enjoyed taking on the role of ambassadors from the UN member states of France and Russia. According to Ferro, students jumped on research necessary to bring them up to speed on the background and global connections as regards the conflicts in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, nuclear disarmament, peacekeeping in all of its aspects, the elimination of terrorism, prevention of an arms race in outer space, the advancement of women, and the promotion and protection of children among many other global concerns. They will go on to debate issues, make speeches, draft resolutions, negotiate and resolve conflict as well as become versed in UN committee procedures as they head to the MMUN conference in New York City from March 8th-11th.
"Our culminating activity will take place on the floor of the General Assembly of the UN where we'll pass the resolutions that committees come up with," said Ferro. Those resolutions are then passed on to the Secretary General.
A natural fit with the Montessori philosophy, which is founded on a "peace education," MMUN offers some unique angles on resolving conflict and sorting out solutions.
Ferro makes the distinction from what many consider a traditional school-based Model UN.
"Montessori Model UN does not focus on competition or give awards or prizes but rather truly models the UN in that regard, focusing instead on collaboration with other member states. Also, Montessori Model UN is a conglomerate of sovereign member states rather than a parliamentary forum."
Ferro explains why she set her sites on MMUN this year.
"We continually search for ways that students can apply what they are learning at school, particularly as they develop life skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and conflict resolution. My goal in developing a MMUN program at WMS was to foster the revolutionary impulse in students. I wanted them to know that their voice is heard and that they can foment change in the world. With our national political climate as it is, it's important to show how positive, peaceful change, civil discourse, and de-escalation through negotiation and diplomacy can be transformative in local, national, and international contexts."
Founded in 1982, the Williamsburg Montessori School provides an individualized daily living and learning environment designed to help children and (now) adolescents grow socially, physically and mentally in a structure framed by the educational philosophy developed in 1907 by Maria Montessori, a legendary Italian educator who was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now in its third decade, the Williamsburg Montessori School endeavors to develop in each student the ability to solve problems independently, appreciate cultures and people around the world, make sound decisions, use freedom and education wisely, to respect him/herself as well as others, and above all, to take joy in learning.
Currently, the Williamsburg Montessori School has 145 students of all ages, representing more than 20 different countries, including India, Spain, Italy, Korea, China, South Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Peru, Trinidad, Vietnam and the Netherlands.
The Montessori Method is a unique, time-tested approach to teaching and learning. Since it was first introduced in 1907, the method has grown both in both size and scope. Montessori schools exist in nearly every country on earth with over 5,000 in the United States alone, while retaining core elements central to the healthy development of children and adolescents.
For more information about the Williamsburg Montessori Middle School, or the Montessori Method of education, please contact Sandy Andrews at 757-565-0977, or visit the Williamsburg Montessori School's website at www.williamsburgmontessori.org
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