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AMI Journal

Communications 2011/1/2

The Dialogue Between Nature and Supranature: Why the Adolescent Prepared Environment Needs to Be on the Land, Laurie Ewert-Krocker
The Montessori Land School: The Root and Branch of Lake Country School, Larry And Kris Schaefer
General Baccalaureate at the Montessori of Tepoztlan School, Mexico, Guadalupe Borbolla
Review of the New Italian Edition of Montessori’s book Dall’infanzia all’adolescenza, Grazia Honegger Fresco
Bibliography on Montessori Adolescent Education, Published Writings by Maria Montessori (Primary Sources), AMI

Communications 2010/2

The Four Planes of Development, Camillo Grazzini

Based on a talk delivered at the AMI International Study Conference "The Child, the Family, the Future", July 19-24, 1994, Washington, DC.

Characteristics of the Child in the Elementary School, Camillo Grazzini

A talk given at the 19th International Montessori Congress, "Help the Child to Shape Man's Future", Amsterdam, 1979.

Question and Answer: The Environment for the Six-to-Twelve Year-Old Child, Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins Grazzini
Maria Montessori's Cosmic Vision, Cosmic Plan and Cosmic Education, Camillo Grazzini

A lecture delivered at the 24th International Montessori Congress, "Education as an Aid to Life", Paris, 2001.

Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials, Camillo Grazzini

This article is based on a paper delivered at the AMI International Study Conference "The Child, The Family, The Future", July 19-24, 1994, Washington, DC.

The Great River, Baiba Krumins Grazzini

This article illustrates the sixth Cosmic Fable discussed in "Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials".

The Montessori Approach to Mathematics, Camillo Grazzini

A paper presented at the 18th International Montessori Congress, "The Montessori Method and the Handicapped Child", Munich, July, 1977.

On The Subject of Subjects Part I: "Cultural Subjects" in the Children's House, Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins Grazzini
On The Subject of Subjects Part II: The Role of the Disciplines for Cosmic Education, Baiba Krumins Grazzini
A Montessori Community for Adolescents, Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins Grazzini

Presented at the First Montessori Adolescent Colloquium, Cleveland, OH, 1996, and at the AMI/USA National Conference "Grace and Courtesy: A Human Responsibility," Oak Brook, IL, 1998

Interview with Camillo Grazzini, based on talks with David Kahn, David Kahn, Baiba Krumins Grazzini, Renilde Montessori, Barbara Kahn
Overview of articles and contributions by Camillo Grazzini in English, AMI

Communications 2010/1

Editorial, Rita Schaefer Zener
Movements with Intelligent Purpose, 4th Lecture on the 10th International Training Course, London, 12 April 1921, Maria Montessori

Montessori argues here that movements considered solely from the point of view of a physiological fact do not really exist in life; all our movements have a purpose. The characteristics of the child, when he is left free to his own spontaneity, show that he is led by an inner force, which is an intellectual force, to perform various actions.

Executive Function and Tools of the Mind, Adele Diamond

Prof. Diamond is a neuropsychologist and this lecture was delivered as the keynote address following AMI's Annual General Meeting on April 10, 2010, Amsterdam. Her presentation focused on early development of the cognitive control functions - collectively called Executive Functions - dependent on prefrontal cortex. She touched upon many aspects that are controlled from prefrontal cortex, such as planning and problem solving, self-control, creativity, inhibiting impulsive actions, etc. She also discusses at length The Tools of the Mind Programme which she has assessed.

Nurturing the Respectful Community through Practical Life, Joen Bettmann

Joen Bettmann's depiction of Practical Life exercises as character-building reveals how caring, careful, and independent work leads to higher self-esteem, more concern for others, better understanding for academic learning, and a self-nurturing, respectful classroom community.

Guiding The Process of Normalization, Rita Schaefer Zener

Montessori saw two major processes that appear opposites in children's development. The process of normalization was considered the 'most important single result of our whole work'. It occurs when love of work, concentration, self-discipline, and sociability all appear. The other process, deviations in development, results from obstacles in the developmental process and occurs frequently in normal children. Dr Zener interviewed 165 Montessori teachers and tabulated in how far and what way the interviewees followed Montessori's recommendations on how best to approach and deal with deviations. Her statistics extrapolating theoretical questions with the current practice have been combined in a refreshing and illuminating article.

Dr Steve Hughes heads AMI Global Research Committee, AMI

One of the questions AMI asked itself a few years ago was 'how can we reach scientists, researchers and universities throughout the world to establish Montessori scientific pedagogy as an integral of education departments? How can we be heard louder in the field of education?' The start of the answer has come with the establishment of the AMI Global Research Committee. Here Steve Hughes explains the committee's spheres of activity.

The Conscious Worker The Child from 3-6 years of age: The Montessori Children's House, M. Shannon Helfrich

The young child who arrives at the conscious phase of the Absorbent Mind is primed to be an active participant in exploring the physical world. He has already created the foundations for functional human existence, and he can move and thus explore his world. He can already speak. We see his skills grow, which help him reach ever greater independence.

Question and Answer: Why is a Child Allowed to Choose Her Own Work in a Montessori Environment?, Jane Scheuermann

Free choice of activity is a cornerstone of a Montessori environment. From the very first days, the child experiences choice - in greeting, activity, conversation, companionship. Her choices and decisions contribute to her formation as a human being in the Montessori environment and lay the foundation for self-discovery and formation.

Announcements, AMI

- Now Available: Three Volumes of Maria Montessori's Collected Works in German - Montessori Digital Library Now Online - Psychogeometry in English out in 2011

Communications 2009/2

Preparation of the Environment for the Young Child in the Family 21 February 1939, Amsterdam. Public Lecture at Maison Hirsch, Maria Montessori

In the early months of 1939, Maria Montessori spent most of her time in the Netherlands. She had commissioned the manufacture of especially designed child-size furniture, and an Amsterdam store hosted the exhibition of this special furniture for a number of weeks. To help explain the philosophy behind the furniture Maria Montessori gave a talk at the store. Dr Montessori made a strong plea for family and school to truly and effectively collaborate, ensuring that both environments are complementary.

The Foundation of the Human Personality: Movement, Language, Independence, Freedom, Judi Orion

This lecture was given at the 26th International Montessori Congress, held at Chennai, India, in January 2009 where Sadhana—Reflective Practice, Spontaneous Living—was the overall theme. Judi carefully guided the audience step by step through the stages of early child development, to conclude that Sadhana is part of our lives from birth; it is our conquest of independence, our joy of life.

A Comparison of Montessori Assistant to Infancy Practice and Birth-Three Traditions in Bhutan, Susan Mayclin Stephenson

In 2006 and 2008, as a guest of the Bhutanese government and friends, Susan Mayclin Stephenson began to research Bhutanese family life and culture in preparation for Montessori education in Bhutan. This article highlights some of the similarities and differences between traditional practices in Bhutan and the Montessori Assistants to Infancy (A to I), birth to three.

Cosmic Education, Sixth Lecture, Maria Montessori

In this Cosmic Lecture, Montessori continues her previous lecture on supra-nature, and how that connects to human growth. In a way this lecture also reverberates the specific theme of this issue, when Montessori writes that in the first year of the child's life he has already seen everything, and has started to order all sorts of things in his mind, through an inner, directed effort. This is not happening haphazardly. Montessori points out that 'in the second year of his life the child is observing the tiniest possible things; almost invisible things are seen by him. Just as if he had already seen enough of the larger things of life, and they no longer held any interest for him.'

Art: An Essential Component of Cosmic Education, Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

The author argues convincingly that to help comprehend our world, our minds benefit also from a visual, perceptual language, such as the pictorial arts. The verbal and the visual, working together, can enhance the way we interpret and appreciate our world. Therefore, both are deserving of our keen attention; if not, we allow a deficit or an imbalance between the two realms. And whether a Pablo Picasso in the making, or not at all, we all benefit from sharpening our observation skills, so necessary in practising and appreciating art, and our knowledge of the world.

Montessori: Education for the 21st Century, Dr Steve Hughes

Steven Hughes shares his dismay that for most children, education still looks more or less the way it did around the beginning of the 1900s. Technology has fostered false hope; but this is not the key to solving the problems of education. Traditional education is content- centred, involving direct instruction from the teacher—an authority figure. Dr Hughes shares his enthusiasm for the Montessori's accurate observations on human learning, and argues that possibly for the first time the wider world is ready for Montessori.

The Special Needs Child from the Montessori Perspective, Nimal Vaz

Ms Vaz, AMI trainer and member of the AMI Special Needs ad hoc committee, talks about the challenges and opportunities of receiving children with special needs, whatever they be into the Montessori classroom. She recognizes that there are many special programmes with fancy names that are put together to help special children. Ms Vaz argues that it is, however, the Montessori school by definition which is best equipped to assist special needs children in their development.

Question and Answer, Pacifiers, Silvana Quattrochhi Montanaro

Dr Montanaro expounds on the possible averse effects of giving children pacifiers. She makes a strong plea for withholding pacifiers from the child, as they are impediments "in disguise", hindering a healthy development, also of language.

A hundred years of Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica, Paola Trabalzini

Paola Trabalzini is Professor of Aspects of Education at Rome's La Sapienza University, and a wellrespected scholar on placing Montessori's writings in a historical and sociological context. Ms Trabalzini has written this article especially to mark the hundredth anniversary of Montessori's first account of the history and development of her ideas on education. The Montessori Method, as this title became known, was the book that would accompany Montessori throughout her life. In forty years five different editions were published, and Montessori revised, edited, deleted and added to each and every one edition. Trabalzini provides many interesting details to help explain the underlying motives.

Announcement: Maria Montessori’s Collected Works in German, Prof. Dr Harald Ludwig

The first volume in the academic series is to be launched in the Spring of 2010. For over ten years, the teaching and research centre for Montessori Pedagogy of the University of Muenster has been working on this academic edition of Maria Montessori's collected works in German under the guidance of Prof. Dr Harald Ludwig in cooperation with the publishing house Herder and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). In twenty-three volumes, the German reader will have access to virtually the whole of Montessori's published work, as well as portions of her extensive previously unpublished writings.

Communications 2009/1

Editorial, Rita Schaefer Zener

Language is the vehicle that communicates most of the knowledge that a human being acquires about human life in its many aspects. Each one of us creates our own language (or languages) from our environment in order to be able to communicate. It is not merely the use of our vocal organs that is so instrumental in getting messages across. In fact, non-verbal communication in the human world is often seen as more communicative than mere words. Our body language and our tone of voice add meaning to reveal what we have to say. Even animals have a level of language to get messages across. It could be signalling vocally, or signalling with tails, wings or feet. One of Maria Montessori’s main themes, a conception that profoundly characterizes her thinking is the Absorbent Mind, a mind that can absorb knowledge without effort. It is a mind that reaches out to incorporate and assimilate the environment. It is a mind that particularly is manifest and active during the first six years of life. One of the aspects most associated with the Absorbent Mind is the development of language. However, when Montessori talks of language and language development, she usually talks about how language is acquired, how language development takes place, how it is fostered and stimulated. Language is both a route to stimulate a thirst for knowledge and the very tool that can and will quench it. It opens up the world. The acquisition of language by the human child comes naturally and without fail. Yet if we look upon the learning of a language as adults, we consider the child’s language acquisition as a truly heroic achievement. In Mario Montessori’s words the Absorbent Mind displays ‘the unique mental powers of the young child which enable him to construct and firmly establish within a few years only, without teachers, without any of the usual aids of education, nay, almost abandoned and often obstructed, all the characteristics of the human personality.’ (…) ‘[Education as an aid to Life] transcends the narrow limits of teaching and direct transmission of knowledge or ideals from one mind to another. It is all taken from the environment.’ (Introduction to the Absorbent Mind) We think our readership, particularly parents, will be delighted with a Maria Montessori lecture from the Montessori Archives on the Absorbent Mind and Language. It was given half way through the course in Poona, India, which ran from November 8, 1948 to January 17, 1949. It offers many central ideas of her theory. Everyone will like Mario Montessori’s article on “The Absorbent Mind.” It gives some of the history of how Montessori developed the notion of the Absorbent Mind, stressing the importance of the environment in language acquisition. He also argues that the Absorbent Mind does not disappear with childhood, ‘[I]t is not possible that consciousness, though limiting its powers and changing its forms, can become completely detached from the creative source welling out of the unconscious.’ Teachers will find validation for what they do when they read Susan Feez in her article “Learning to Read through Grammar.” She promotes the Montessori approach to language, since it is so beautifully connected to real language use, something which traditional education in English speaking countries is often unable to offer. She elucidates how the dynamic grammar symbols and language aids are unique and how they stimulate language development. Feez also explains how Montessori came to understand the Absorbent Mind during her thorough study of the works of Itard and Séguin. Maria Montessori is back on one of her favourite subjects with the Cosmic Education lecture, the fifth in the series of six we are bringing from the archives. This series is quite unique in that Montessori devoted no less than six lectures in a row to the subject, which gives us a fascinating insight into how she built up the momentum with her students, and draws them into the subject. This lecture’s focus is on supra natura, a notion close to Montessori’s heart. Elementary teachers especially are enjoying this series. The title “Montessori and the Uncited Influence of Hegel” might seem a bit daunting, as it touches upon aspects not usually explored by traditional Montessorians. The authors Steven Gimbel and Anne Emerson have written a fascinating article in accessible language. It is beneficial for all of us to take in another viewpoint. These authors demonstrate, sharing an increasing awareness from outside the educational world, that Montessori occupies her own place in a philosophical tradition, and that her learning and reading included much philosophy. The Question and Answer section, in line with the overall theme, focuses on language. Kay Baker pays particular attention to the enrichment of language in the elementary years. Her contribution combines both the theory with practice and gives us a succinct and clear overview. The final “slots” in this issue of Communications are given to Kay Grosso and Eva Shaw, who tell the moving story of how a simple request for mosquito nets evolved into a serious commitment to bring education to Nawantale, a village far away from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Kay and Eva, mother and daughter, have written companion articles: one on a personal level, the other providing all the objective statistics. This article will particularly interest those interested in social reform in the Montessori movement. We hope you will appreciate the diversity of articles and that the summer months will provide you with just that bit of extra time to take a nice firm “bite” off these wonderful reading delicacies.

Language and the Absorbent Mind, Lecture No. 9-13 December 1948, Maria Montessori

Montessori describes the child’s inner urges and his sensorial powers to go from big to minute, from large to the finest detail. Seeing the invisible, love and enthusiasm are the key words of this lecture.

The Absorbent Mind, Mario M Montessori

Mario Montessori makes a firm plea for the timelessness of the Montessori approach to education and devotes a sizeable section to the child’s mental powers and the development of language. He also argues that the Absorbent Mind does not disappear with the early childhood years.

Learning to Read through Grammar, Susan Feez

Few teachers of English in English-speaking countries have learnt another language consciously; subsequently, their knowledge of grammar is often disconnected from real language use. Traditional education is now calling for a return to teaching knowledge about language. Feez argues that Montessori educators have much to contribute as this shift in emphasis gains ground in English language and literacy education around the world.

Cosmic Education, Fifth Lecture (1936), Maria Montessori

In this Cosmic Lecture, Montessori talks at length about supra natura, ‘Man's needs become more and more refined as his progress goes on, so that it is inevitable that this environment has been developed. We may call this a supra nature because it is above nature, but it is the nature of man.’

Montessori and the Uncited Influence of Hegel, Steven Gimbel and Anne Emerson

Steven Gimbel, Associate Professor of Philosophy, together with Anne Emerson, an educational researcher, argue that Montessori follows lines of reasoning that reverberate in philosophy.‘[I]nherent in the structure and content of Montessori's view of mind as she sets it out in great detail in her book The Absorbent Mind and in her pedagogical method as she sets it out in The Montessori Method, philosophy is there, specifically the historical dialectical approach of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.’

Question and Answer: The Approach to Enrichment of Language for the Elementary Years, Kay Baker
The Long, Red Dirt Road to School, Kay Grosso
Health and Well-being: Challenges for Nawantale, Uganda, Eva Shaw

This story goes back to an email in 2006 that Eva Shaw, a former HIV/AIDS volunteer in Uganda sent to her mother Kay Grosso, shortly after some 50 mud huts were destroyed in a flood in the village of Nawantale, far away from Uganda's capital, Kampala. Shaw asked her mother to help in organizing mosquito netting and tents. Kay Grosso and Eva Shaw have written companion articles on both a personal and academic level how extreme poverty, minimal healthcare, and missing intergenerational educational contexts cry out for successful Montessori intervention.

Communications 2008/2

Editorial, Harald Ludwig

To Maria Montessori it was self-evident that her approach to education had a scientific base: it clearly shows from the title of her first book on pedagogy (1909), which termed her work as Pedagogia Scientifica*; moreover, if we realize that she had been trained for many years as a physician, scientist and anthropologist, we will know that she “grew up” on empirical methods. Empirical research bases its findings on direct or indirect observation to help describe and interpret reality. Methodical observation is the pivotal element, and the key to science—the gathering of empirical knowledge. The researcher and scientist attempt to describe as faithfully as possible what interactions, what behaviours, what phenomena are being observed. Montessori always argued that she did not test preconceived ideas, but rather deducted her ideas from what was observed again and again. On the other hand, she emphasized that she would not have been able to understand the observed phenomena without her theoretical training**. In her early years she preferred the classical methods of exact measuring. Later she more and more turned to methods of understanding observation. She would encourage the new teachers to be scientists: the teacher should not lay a matrix over a classroom and expect the children to fit snugly into a mould. Instead, observation and interpretation of the individual child should always be the basis for the teacher’s work with the children, and they should be guided by practical experience on the basis of a theoretical training. Empirical methods, observation and research are the main themes that run through this issue of Communications. The various articles provide insightful arguments concerning their importance, tell of research past and present, and make a connection to Montessori practice historical and topical. Our first theme article “Montessori and Empirical Research—an Introduction” details how Maria Montessori set up an early research project at three Roman schools which was mainly anthropologically driven— it includes vivid descriptions of how Montessori implemented the methodology learnt from her anthropological studies, and demonstrates how she applied her training in the science of observation, measuring and noting facts and how this basic attitude continued to impact and direct her further thinking. The article also shows the change in Montessori’s way of thinking after her experiences in the Children’s House in San Lorenzo. She more and more recognized that pedagogy cannot be built on empirical research alone, but also needs other ways of obtaining knowledge as it is done in the wide field of humanities especially by hermeneutic methods. In “Some Suggestions and Remarks upon Observing Children” Montessori provides the “proof” of her guiding principle. The article is the synthesis of two lectures that she gave on observation during her 1921 London course. It combines profound philosophical reflections on the value of observation, the fundamental points underlying it, whilst also giving some very concrete and practical examples. “Researching Montessori: What Matters and Why” perceptively outlines how Montessori and her co-workers passed on her findings mainly through an oral tradition: by giving courses and public lectures. Jacqueline Cossentino traces some key trends in the history of research on Montessori and reviews two recent studies, advocating rigorous Montessori research across various disciplines. Clara Tornar argues along the same lines in her “Report on Recent Empirical Research on Montessori Education in Italy.” The author observes that after many years of neglect by Italian universities, the academic research of Montessori pedagogy has in recent years made a healthy come-back. The article pays particular attention to some pilot projects that have been concluded, and makes a vigorous plea for broadening the horizons of exploration. Similarly “Recent Empirical Research on Montessori Education in Germany” sketches quite comprehensively the current “state” of Montessori research, whilst making some useful links to history. The main research project discussed here is VERA 2004, a comparative research project that tested the levels of 9 to 10-year-olds in the fields of Mathematics and German. The article also includes a summary of a recent empirical study carried out on furthering creativity through Montessori education. The second contribution by Clara Tornar is “The Scientific Topicality of the Montessori Model” a lecture she gave last year at a Centenary Conference in Stockholm. She offers a precise description on the how’s and why’s of the Montessori model, and provides four main charts that show how—at various levels—input generates output in a Montessori setting. In our Question and Answer Section, Kay Baker joins the ranks of the authors in this issue who address the importance of observation, and discusses how to use this tool in the Elementary classroom. Taking a very broad outlook, outlining the purpose of observation, she asks many pertinent questions and provides clear answers. The article offers a helpful and detailed insight into the practice of observation, and shows the teacher how she can observe her own role and self-monitor her work. In our series “Cosmic Education lectures from the archives,” we are bringing you the fourth lecture that Maria Montessori gave in the winter extension of the 21st training course. She continues her descriptions of the interconnectedness of all organisms on earth, however small, and revels in the wonder of coral reefs and their creation. In “Montessori and Tools for Life” the reader will meet Dutch mathematical logician Henk Barendregt, who from 4-17 attended Montessori schools. In this interview he shares his deep appreciation of Montessori education, and links some of the crucial “conquests” in Montessori to his love of Mathematics and Buddhism. In conclusion, in “The Absorbent Mind” Paul Pillai sketches some of the cosmic elements of Montessori’s achievements. Similarly to her argument that all is connected and everything works in the service of our world, Pillai writes that Montessori’s ideas, methods and philosophy were fed by the society in which she grew up, and by the scholars and scientists that went before her. His argument culminates in his description of the power of the human mind. We hope you will enjoy this issue and would be very glad of your feedback. You can contact the editorial board via info@montessori-ami.org. * Il metodo della pedagogia scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini (Città di Castello, 1909) ** Cf. Montessori, Maria, “The Two Natures of the Child” (1933) in Communications 4 (1995) pp. 4-9

Montessori and Empirical Research-an Introduction, Harald Ludwig

The author details how Maria Montessori set up an early research project at three Roman schools that was mainly anthropologically driven. It includes vivid descriptions of how Montessori implements anthropological methodologies. Observation also plays an important role.

Some Suggestions and Remarks upon Observing Children, Maria Montessori

Montessori elaborates on the crucial role of Observation. The article is the synthesis of two lectures on the 1921 London course.

Researching Montessori: What Matters and Why, Jacqueline Cossentino

Focusing on the United States, the article discusses two recent influential studies. The author makes a strong plea for new and broad research across various disciplines.

Recent Empirical Research on Montessori Education in Italy, Clara Tornar

Some recent pilot projects in Italy are discussed, among which “The Identity of the Montessori School” and “Learning to Learn in Montessori Schools.”

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