Students in Wilmington Montessori School's Middle School program, along with sixth-graders in the Upper Elementary program, participate in an unforgettable capstone experience each year - the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN). Rooted in Maria Montessori’s strong belief in peace education, the MMUN program brings students from around the world 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.)
In typical years, the MMUN is held in New York City (with other sites around the world), where WMS students join 600 other Montessori students from around the world for a UN simulation experience to learn about cooperation and the art of compromise. In 2021, the conference was held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the preparation and learning experience remained the same.
“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.
During the summer, students spend time learning about the United Nations, its history and its role in today’s world. When they return to school in the fall, they share thing findings and select delegation countries. Students then begin to research global topics from the perspective of their countries. 2021 topics included cybersecurity, reduction of military budgets, climate change, food security, fair trade policies, using technology to establish fair elections, preventing the distribution of counterfeit medical products and more.
After completing their research, each student - or “delegate” - writes 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.
Then, they write opening speeches that summarize the content of their position papers. Opening speeches are presented to committees at beginning of the conference (click here to watch one!). Following the speeches, the delegates move on to hours of negotiations within their committees. Delegates 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.
During the closing ceremony, each committee’s resolution is presented to the larger group - this year, three WMS students were even selected by their committees to present their resolutions.
"While the virtual conference was different, it was still a very enriching experience for our students," said Lead Middle School Teacher Mandy Balanetsky. "The students worked very hard to prepare for MMUN. I am proud of their accomplishments and their representation of our school. They proved to be true learners and leaders who care deeply for the current and future state of our world. "