Our Montessori: Carrots, Kwanzaa, and Cultural Understandings

Last week on the way to work I forgot, then remembered the fresh carrots I promised to bring my child’s class for their Kwanzaa celebration. While washing and wrapping them, I thought, “over the past few weeks my kids have learned, shared, celebrated Dawali, Hanukkah, Christmas, and now Kwanzaa.” I stopped to think about what that meant, how through books, art, music, food, their friends, and our school community, the kids were on a journey to understand, experience culture, inclusion, and diverse traditions.

A Kwanzaa Celebration

Then I thought, “bringing in the carrots was easy,” I didn’t have to think about it, just wash, bag, and carry. But between my wash and carry, I thought about Kwanzaa’s principles. I thought about Unity, Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith, and how as a parent I could share a bit of what I, we as a family understood about those principles with my son’s classroom. And though I was already running late for work, it would only take a minute to grab our beautifully illustrated Kwanzaa pop-up book, A Kwanzaa Celebration, by Nancy Williams, a favorite in our house.

A Kwanzaa Celebration by Nancy Williams, illustrated by Robert Saduba

There are some things that just go well together. And then there are mixings, pairings that teach us about others. While other parents over the past few weeks have added to our children’s cultural conversations about Dawali, Hanukkah, and Christmas, I was pleased my family could also contribute to the cultural conversation by sharing what we know about Kwanzaa and its symbolic and cultural references. I was happy as a family we could share one of our favorite poignant and colorful pop-up books that explained the values that influence Kwanzaa, values we honor and celebrate in our home throughout the year. But most of all, I was honored to contribute to our children’s learning community, a community working hard to instill in its children, our children, a voice and an ear for openness, respect for inclusion, understanding, contribution—asking of its families to do more for education and learning than just bringing in the carrots.

Kwanzaa begins today December 26, 2012 and ends January 1, 2013. Learn more: Kwanzaa in the news and other resourcesWhat is Kwanzaa?, Books, Kwanzaa ideas on Pinterest

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Categories: Education, Parenting

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