This journey began with a project on elephants.
A student in the Lower Elementary program learned that elephants are mammals, that there are two kinds of elephants, and that elephants like to live where it is very hot. She also learned that elephants are endangered because they are being killed by hunters. This did not sit well with her. She was not okay with elephants being poached or killed for their ivory tusks. She had fallen in love with these leathery, gentle giants and didn’t want any more elephants to be killed.
This engaged student recruited two friends to help her. They approached their teachers, advocating for a fundraiser for elephants. They made posters. They picked a month. They informed all elementary classes when the fundraiser would happen.
They raised over $300 for WWF Canada.
In Montessori education we talk about the different sensitive periods that the children possess. Sensitive periods are time sensitive and only exist for a short period. For children in the elementary years, they are in a sensitive period for justice. Their world is expanding beyond family and they are learning The Rules. We hear them talk about what is fair. Elementary-age children may experiment with things like lying and breaking rules.
The flip side of this is that these are also the children who are struck by things they find completely unjust or against The Rules. To the elementary child, learning about things they think are Wrong or Against the Rules can be offensive to them.
They feel that they know something to be so fundamentally wrong
that it is up to them to help;
that It is up to them to stop this injustice from happening.
To these girls the mistreatment of elephants was completely unacceptable and something they could stop. One of them remarked when cutting out elephant cookies: “The absolute best-case scenario that could come from this fundraiser would be if the WWF called us and told us that our donation saved the elephants”. And that is true. That would be the best-case scenario.
These students believe they can change the world.
They just might be right.
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