Here in the US, the Fourth of July marks the signing, on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, when the Second Continental Congress announced its resolution of independence from Great Britain. It is the symbolic birthdate of this nation, commemorated across the country with fireworks and parades, political speeches and other celebrations. The second sentence of that declaration remains one of the most powerful assertions of human rights we know, ""We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The declaration goes on to read, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
This is an apt description of the Montessori classroom, too. We hold some truths to be self-evident: that all children are created equal, that they are endowed with particular rights that include life, liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. We establish classrooms that function in the way the writers of the declaration described governments, as places to protect those rights, organized in such a way as to be most likely to propel them.
The ideals of Montessori, like those on which the independence of the original thirteen colonies from Great Britain were defended, are more than a description of a particular form of teaching. They are an assertion of what it means to be human, and an argument for social organizations that preserve those essential qualities.
So, as you're eating hot dogs and watching the fireworks today, keep in mind those universal truths: that all are created equal, that all are endowed with rights that cannot be separated from them and that, among those rights are their lives, their liberty and their individual pursuits. It's what our nation's forefathers argued for and what we celebrate when we don our red, white and blue apparel, but more, it's a vision we still seek to protect, in our homes and our classrooms, across the political boundaries of this country and, if we really do hold these truths as truth, across political boundaries. It's more than a day for tubas and barbecue. It's a day to acknowledge our aspirations as humans, the world we seek to create and the work we are responsible to carry to create it, within borders and beyond them. We have work to do.