An innovative project, integrating the educational approach of Maria Montessori with the mindfulness practice of Plum Village.

"Humans are born as flowers. When I look at a child, I see him or her as a flower. Very fresh. Very beautiful.
We are born as flowers, but if we do not take care of our flower, our flower may be tired, and wilt.
If you breathe in deeply, you make every cell of your body smile like a flower.
You become fresh again for your own happiness, and for the happiness of those around us."
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Flower Fresh Education

* After two years of working in informal settings, we are in the process of founding a bilingual, international, educational center close to Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice center in the south-west of France, supported by the local practice community. We aim to create an Infant Community (0-3), a Children's House (3-6), and an Elementary Class (6-12).

* We have established, and are further developing, an innovative method for early years children’s education, integrating the educational approach of Maria Montessori and the mindfulness practice of Thich Nhat Hanh.

* Our educational method is fundamentally different from what is in place today. It places the well-being of the child and the adults, both teachers and parents, at the heart of education. The understanding that children, teachers, parents and a local community inter-are is fundamental and runs through every step of our project. Parallel to the educational activities themselves, we offer regular mindfulness practice sessions for parents and teachers.

* Our approach embodies the original meaning of the root word of education: educere, meaning ‘to bring forth.’ The adult practices mindfulness to prepare him or herself, and uses the Montessori method to prepare the environment and materials that give children the space to explore and develop themselves.

* Similar to mindfulness, Montessori proposed the activity of Silence to children, the joy of stillness. The purpose of this activity is to nurture the child’s innate love for silence, nourishing his or her reality of “transcending the ordinary run of life."

* Our focus is on peace education, nourishing young human beings to live peacefully and with compassion with themselves, other people, animals, plants, and minerals. We aim to foster intuitive understanding of interbeing and to nurture the holistic development of young humans, physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

* In our values and practices we are guided by the Applied Ethics of Thich Nhat Hanh, specifically the Two Promises and the 5 and 14 Mindfulness Trainings. We do not offer religious or Buddhist teachings.

* We use the teachings and practices of the Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village community to model and cultivate compassionate connection and communication, which foster joy, well-being and peaceful, sustainable living, and contribute to the life-serving development of our families, communities, societies and humanity as a whole.

Children’s Education From The Heart

Who We Are

Elena Stevenson
Elena Stevenson

We are a group of about a dozen mindfulness practitioners. We come from a variety of professional fields: educators, therapists, writers, artists, political advisers, scientists and more, who share a love of humanity, our planet and the well-being of our children. Most of us are parents of children of various different ages. We all have strong relationships with the Plum Village practice center in France, and many of us live in the local community around Plum Village. We have set up the Still Water Peace Education Association as a container for our educational work. Our community and project are bilingual French/English, but many of us speak other languages as well.

Project directors: Elena M. Stevenson and Paul Tingen, members of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. In addition to Elena, our educators are Kathryn, an accredited Montessori teacher with a high level of teaching experience, and Sachi, who is in accredited Montessori qualification training.

The project founders are Elena Marjanna Stevenson and Kalindi Attar.

* Elena was born in Scotland and grew up in Denmark in a bilingual family. She is the mother of three sons, now young adults, born in Denmark, Scotland, and France. Her education includes a Kindergarten teaching qualification from Copenhagen, Denmark, a Masters in Public Administration Cand.Scient.Adm from Roskilde University Centre Denmark, and a SCVQ level 5 in Early years Montessori education (0-6 years) from Montessori Partnership Scotland. In Denmark, Elena has been active as an educator, parent coach, project manager of community projects for families and children. In Scotland she was the Directress and manager of the Netherton Montessori school, and the Lead Practitioner and manager of the Wild Sparks Forest school. Elena has been part of the global Mindfulness in Education network since 2002 and the International and Montessori Europe network since 2018. Elena continues to work as a Montessori educator and mindful parenting coach, and lives close to Plum Village with her Dutch husband and her two youngest children.

Elena

* Kalindi was raised in the US with a combination of American, Iranian, Indian and Turkish cultures, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami with a degree in Psychology. Kalindi lived in Mexico for 16 years, where she was the co-founder of several flourishing projects in a Zapotec indigenous village in the Southern Sierra mountains of Oaxaca, focused on sustainability, community, and innovation. These projects include the Ananda Learning Center, an educational center based on Montessori, and Casa Maitri, a retreat space that encourages life in connection with nature. Kalindi also organizes and facilitates transformational workshops to support organizations and their relationships between teams. Kalindi lives with her husband and two children next to Plum Village. She feels the world is ready for an educational project that integrates alternative approaches with Thich Nhat Hanh’s profound teachings and practices.

Kalindi Attar
Kalindi Attar

Kalindi with her son

Get Involved

We are looking for parents with children living in the area around Plum Village, or planning to live there, people with skills and experience in fundraising, sponsors, people who can help us find a building and legal accreditation in France, and anyone else who wants to contribute to making our vision a reality. Please get in touch when you have questions, suggestions, and/want to offer your support.