Montessori Model United Nations - "A Playful Approach to Peace"
New York, NY - February 2023
Montessori teachers, administrators, and chaperones to the MMUN student delegates took time to 'play' together, for fun and for promoting peace.
How are play and peace connected?
Play is defined as engaging in an activity for the pure pursuit of joy. Play involves collaboration and cooperation with others. It invokes agreement and it requires generosity of spirit. These descriptors of 'states of being' are the same ones involved in harmony, contentment and peace.
The MMUN workshop attendees learned about the connection of improvisational play and the function of the brain. Improv can bring about a sense of unease. Not knowing what you are going to say or do, in front of a group of people can do that! But by focusing on the other person that is with you. By listening to this person. By caring about making that other person look good and elevate their ideas, any worries or fear are smoothed over. Instead of operating out of the reptilian, or survival, part of our brain, we are now operating out of our empathetic and problem solving section of our brain. This mental gymnastics of modulating between a defensive and self-protective mode of thinking to a generous and care-taking mode of thinking, is the same function as needed when shifting from a potential conflict to a peaceful and harmonious interaction.
After sharing brain theory with discussion and reflection, the MMUN workshop attendees enthusiastically dove into a series of group activities that demonstrated many of the principals key to both successful improv play, and successful harmonious interactions. The theory came to life and the room filled with laughter! We did activities involving the whole group, paired groups, and also scenes with volunteer participants. The laughter was contagious and the participants, who all started off as strangers, were instantly bonded.
Laughter is a lightening strike to trustful relationships. A shared laugh immediately brings harmony and connectedness, even if just for a brief moment. But sometimes a brief moment is all that is needed, to slowly build and open conversations and hearts. This is the key to successful comedic improv scenes and to successful peaceful interactions.