On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by police officers. This tragedy was not an arbitrary and isolated event but rather the outcome of over 400 years of systemic and institutional racism in America. We continue to mourn for lives lost, and we know we must also consider our own role in one particular institution: education. It’s time for all of us to think critically about how we uphold and perpetuate systems of inequality and racism. Montessori as an educational structure has always dealt with the concepts of respect for the independence and autonomy of the child. However, we can no longer pretend America’s racist systems do not play a role in impacting these very topics.
All of us at WMI support and join the voices that declare that great change is needed in our society. We are committing to educating ourselves and our students more about implicit bias, race, and how these impact education. We have brought educators to do anti-bias and anti-racism work on our training for the past several years and will commit to continuing to include and expand this part of our training courses. We acknowledge there is much, much more needed work for us to do in our training and for our development as trainers and as a board. This will continually change and evolve as we learn and evolve.
WMI recognizes the need for both an increased outreach and recruitment of Black trainees as well as the building of networks of support. Far too often Black members of our Montessori community have been isolated and marginalized. We commit to working on disrupting those experiences.
Over the past two years, we’ve been building our relationship with Howard University, a renowned HBCU (historically Black college/university). Looking forward, we plan to deepen that connection and continue recruiting and supporting Black trainees in other ways.
We acknowledge that there is much more work to be done and that there are parts of the Montessori world that are shaped by racism in ways that we don’t see. We’re committed to hearing from the community about ways that WMI can be more equitable and uphold some of the justice demands of the Black Lives Matter movement. Together, we can strive to make a difference. Dr. Montessori began her work because she knew that things had to change. Now, more than a century later, we must carry on and expand her legacy of change by interrogating our own beliefs and working to make concrete change in the educational system, including training, recruitment, service to the community, and more.
As WMI moves into its newest chapter as a training center, we’re taking this time to take stock of our privilege, history, and ongoing practices. We know that change will not come just because of one statement, however we share it to stand in solidarity around the outrage of these continued acts of brutal racism. We are making a promise to our institution, today, tomorrow, and beyond.
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”
Maria Montessori, Education and Peace, Clio Edition, p. 30
The Board and Staff of the Washington Montessori Institute