This year middle-schoolers and sixth-graders will mark a first for WMS: participation in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN). Rooted in Maria Montessori’s strong belief in peace education, the MMUN program brings upper elementary and middle school students together to learn about the United Nations and its role as the world’s largest international peacekeeping and humanitarian organization.
(Learn more about the MMUN program in the video below.)
For WMS's oldest students, it’s a fitting project as they embrace conflict as their theme for the 2019-20 academic year.
“It folds in a lot of skills - public speaking, group work, writing, research, reading - while working on real world things,” said Middle School lead teacher Mandy Balanetsky.
Work is already underway among the middle-schoolers and sixth-graders to prepare for the February 2020 MMUN conference in New York City, where they will join 600 other students from around the world for a UN simulation experience to learn about cooperation and the art of compromise.
Last week, they received their assigned countries - Bahamas, Bolivia, Dominica and Honduras. Students then ranked their interests in specific topics these countries debate in the real-life United Nations - from nuclear disarmament to illegal fishing. Each student was assigned one country, committee and topic to research and represent at the February conference.
Committees they will represent include Disarmament and International Security (DISEC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Social, Humanitarian & Cultural (SOCHUM), and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Topics they will represent include:
- Nuclear disarmament
- Prevention of an arm race in space
- Advancement of women
- UN forum on forest
- Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
- The state of food security and nutrition in the world
- Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons
- Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Students will first spend time researching their assigned countries, then delve into their individual topic area and explore their country’s positions on that topic. Each student - or “delegate” - will write a paper proposing a solution for their topic issue. For example, if the topic is nuclear disarmament and the country’s stance is against nuclear proliferation, the proposal might address how countries can work together to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and encourage other countries not to pursue them.
Based on that paper, each delegate will write a one-minute speech about their topic, which they will present to their committee on the opening day of the conference. Delegates will negotiate, collaborate and compromise to reach acceptable solutions in line with the positions of the countries they represent. The goal for each committee is to arrive at a single solution for each of their topics, and for those solutions to be voted on by each member country in consensus.
Stay tuned to hear how the MMUN experience unfolds in the new year, when we follow up with the middle-school and sixth-grade team to capture their impressions and share conference highlights.