Excerpt from a letter translated and written by Maria Montessori in 1947, sent to all governments in the world after World War II
My life has been spent in the research of truth. Through the study of children, I have scrutinized human nature at its origin both in the East and the West and, although it is forty years now since I began my work, childhood still seems to me an inexhaustible source of revelations and – let me say – of hope.
Childhood has shown me that all humanity is one. All children talk, no matter what their race of their circumstances or their family, more or less at the same age; the walk, change their teeth, etc. at certain fixed periods of their life. In other aspects, also especially in the psychical field, they are just as similar, just as susceptible.
Children are the constructors o men whom they build, taking from the environment language, religion, customs, and the peculiarities not only of race, not only of the nation but even of a special district in which they develop.
Childhood constructs with what it finds. If the material is poor, the construction is also poor. As far as civilization is concerned the child is at the level of the food gatherers. In order to build himself, he has to take by chance, whatever he finds in the environment.
The child is the forgotten citizen, and yet, if statesmen and educationists once came to realize the terrible force that is in childhood for good or for evil, I feel they would give I a priority above everything else.
All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if a man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved.
No child is a Bolshevist or a Fascist or a Democrat; they all become what circumstances or the environment make them. In our days when, in spite of the terrible lessons of two world wars, the times ahead loom as dark as ever before, I feel strongly that another field has to be explored, besides those of economics and ideology. It is the study of MAN- not of an adult man on whom every appeal is wasted. He, economically insecure, remains bewildered in the maelstrom of conflicting ideas and throws himself now on this side, now on that. Man must be cultivated from the beginning of life when the great powers of nature are at work. It is then that one can hope to plan for a better international understanding.