On November 24, 2022 Association Montessori International/USA (AMI/USA) published an article entitled “Gratitude for the National Day of Mourning” which was posted on Facebook with this explanation:
“This event serves to educate all Americans about the false narrative of the Thanksgiving story.” The article does not specify the false narrative, but it does include this paragraph:
“History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.”
So is the false narrative that Indians were made out to be savages when they were not? But there were tribes that were savage and uncivilized during that time period just as there were Europeans that committed horrific acts. And the U.S. government didn’t always treat the Indians fairly. But history has a context, and during that time mankind was in the process of becoming more civilized. You can’t condemn people back then because they didn’t know what we know today—the concept of individual rights, and respecting those rights instead of resorting to violence or some type of destruction.
The Thanksgiving story is not about portraying Indians in a negative light. It is important to note that the Pilgrims invited Indians to the first Thanksgiving and there were more Indians present than Pilgrims. It would seem that they had a friendly relationship. The Pilgrims and the Indians chose to celebrate their accomplishment of abundance of food together. They got along, there was some peace between them. It was good, it was something to celebrate.
To celebrate the “Day of Mourning” by vilifying Thanksgiving shows a lack of respect for the generosity and productiveness celebrated during that first momentous occasion between the early settlers and the Indians. Thanksgiving is a time that all Americans (which includes Indians) can celebrate a heritage of which they all can be very proud. At the first Thanksgiving everyone came together in peace. Why would anyone try to ruin a tradition that was based on a festivity that was originally inclusive of both cultures? Today we do have an understanding of individual rights, and the attempt to raise one group by vilifying another deserves denunciation. It isn’t the Thanksgiving story that is pushing a false narrative.
On the comment thread under the article, I posted an article called The Tale of the Pilgrims—Why It Needs to Be Taught. I was told, “…you seem to misunderstand the whole root of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori is about anti-racism, not the perspective you share…”
AMI is the organization whose purpose originally was to keep the Montessori Method pure. Is AMI/USA really teaching their teachers that Montessori is about anti-racism? Montessori is about the cognitive development of the child’s mind so that he learns how to reason. Montessori thought that education should direct itself toward developing individualism in the child. Individualism holds that each person develops his own character by the thinking of his own mind, and judges others by their individual character instead of racist factors such as skin color. Individualism is the foundation for anti-racism.
An owner of a Montessori school on that thread said that she does not teach the Thanksgiving story. Eliminating a side of history is indoctrination. What happened, happened. Just because there were tribes that were savage and Europeans that were brutal, doesn’t say anything about people now—humans have become more civilized. Our ancestors lived 400 years ago, and we are not responsible for what they did, nor do their actions or attitudes in the past determine ours now. To say otherwise is to deny that humans have free will, an attribute that Montessori clearly supported: “Free choice is one of the highest of all mental processes.” The denial of free will is determinism, the foundation for racism.
We can be grateful, however, for the civilization that was created that we all benefit from now. I would be surprised to hear that anyone wants to go back to a time without airplanes, cars, light bulbs, television, antibiotics, warm homes in the winter, technological advancements, and so on.
Why is there this constant attempt to deny the past? Throughout history when communists/socialists/fascists are preparing to take over a country, they wipe out that country’s history and culture, and they take over their education system. Their goal is for citizens to engage in hatred—self-hatred. It is very alarming that AMI/USA is succumbing to the ideology that Maria Montessori ran away from during WWII. If they truly value children, their lives and happiness, they should not capitulate. It isn’t too late to change course.
 Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, (New York: Dell Publishing, 1967), p. 271.
Published in the American Thinker. Republished in CM by permission of the author.