Debate week at Princeton Montessori School
- Jan. 10, 2014 - PRINCETON, N.J. --
Princeton Montessori's Middle School students are learning debate skills as part of their weekly class schedule, culminating in a formal debate where they will debate on behalf of Pakistan at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Unlike the classic debate model, which emphasizes a 'debate to win' strategy, teacher Peter Van Elswyk, from Rutgers University, emphasizes the much needed skill of active listening and acknowledging a viewpoint different than one's own. In the polarized political climate of today, this shift to positive confrontation, with the hopes of honoring different points of view, is a refreshing option, and very much in keeping with the Peace Education focus in Montessori schools. In April, the 6th and 7th grade students will head to the United Nations to take part in Montessori Model U.N., a unique approach to the popular Model United Nations in which many students around the globe participate. Maria Montessori was the first female to formally address the United Nations, and worked actively in her later years for peace around the world. The curriculum she developed includes development of the ethical and spiritual needs of children.
During the Montessori Model U.N. week, while their classmates are debating in New York City, the 8th grade students will head off to Morocco as their culminating middle school experience, getting to see, hear, and taste first hand what another culture is like. In keeping with Montessori's vision of education for the pre-adolescent, the students have already paid for a portion of the trip themselves from their earnings over their three years in middle school. Truly, these experiences are the type of experiential education called for in the 21st century, and in keeping with an exceptional Montessori experience.