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Communications 2008/2

Recent Empirical Research on Montessori Education in Germany, Harald Ludwig

With an introduction to VERA 2004, a comparative research project in German. The article also includes a summary of a study into furthering creativity through Montessori education.

The Scientific Topicality of the Montessori Model, Clara Tornar

This article offers a precise description on the how’s and why’s of the Montessori model.

Cosmic Education, Fourth Lecture (1936), Maria Montessori

Montessori talks extensively about sea life, continuing her descriptions of the interconnectedness of all organisms on earth, however small, and revels in the wonder of coral reefs and their creation.

Question and Answer: Observation in the Elementary Classroom, Kay Baker

An article filled with suggestions on how to develop observation habits in the elementary classroom.

Montessori and Tools for Life: An Interview with Henk Barendregt, AMI

An Interview with Henk Barendregt, chair of chair of Foundations of Mathematics and Computer Science at Nijmegen University – and Montessori student from 4-17.

The Absorbent Mind, Paul Pillai

The author shares with use the cosmic elements of Montessori’s achievements, and tells an inviting story on man’s reasoning power, and the intelligence of the mind.

Communications 2008/1

Editorial, Rita Schaefer Zener

It has been a pleasure to work with Joke Verheul and Brenda Striegel Fox from the AMI office, Harald Ludwig, my Co-Editor, and Alexander Henny, until April, 2008 chair of the Communications Board Committee. He was responsible for AMI’s publications during that time. He was instrumental in the decision to transform Communications into an academic journal and to create a News Bulletin for general matters. The cooperation among them and the entire Editorial Board has made all of our jobs easier. I want to thank the people that I have interviewed about Communications. You have helped me to conceptualize new ideas about planning for our academic journal. We have agreed that there should be a place for more voices to make suggestions and to interact with the Editorial Board. We would welcome that kind of feedback. Surely there are ideas and clarifications that our readership can make that will be of benefit to everyone’s thinking. We would like to introduce a section of “Letters to the Editor”. We want your ideas about the journal articles and your ideas about what more you would like to read. Your voice in response to articles will generate more interest in the topic. Your questions stimulate deeper thought. The success of this new section, however, depends on having letters from you, the AMI members, and others who read Communications. Please do send your letters with comments and questions to the AMI office. There is something else that the AMI office would like to receive. Historically many people sent a copy of their thesis or dissertation. For some reason this practice has not continued. We ask our membership to help us restore this endeavour and keep our archives growing. If you know of dissertations that are about some aspect of Montessori education, would you request that the author send notice to the office? The notice could be in book form, but that is expensive and takes up space. With digital storage it is possible to send and receive the work in an efficient manner. In addition we would appreciate a summary of the dissertation, written in English by the author. These works from around the world may also enrich what we are able to find to print for you in Communications. The Table of Contents has a new organization. We hope that this feature will help our busy readers to ascertain which articles will be of the most interest to them. The articles appear grouped by theme to facilitate the flow of information. The theme of this issue is Cosmic Education. The current and ongoing organization of Montessori’s pedagogical archives has identified a number of lectures on Cosmic Education. The one chosen here is the third lecture in a series of six on this topic—part of the winter holiday extension of the 21st International Course, given in London in 1935. In this lecture Montessori expounds on the cycle of water, chalk, the sea, the living beings that build reefs and shells, and purify the sea, and the construction of continents. She argues that we might call this ‘a mission of cooperation between living beings.’ Montessori indicates that this particular subject of sea life will yield many captivating examples that will rouse and sustain the children’s interest in the concept of Cosmic Education. In “A Science of Peace” Annette Haines addresses the full spectrum of man’s development, from birth to adolescence, with additional emphasis on “Man as Cosmic Agent.” This lecture was specifically written for the Centenary Year to celebrate Maria Montessori’s message of peace—one of her main topics, and one she advocated most strongly and was fervent in promoting. She believed that a peaceful society cannot be built on a foundation that does not seek to integrate body, mind and spirit. Montessori claimed that the right kind of environment would allow children to manifest in their work phenomena which, taken together, constitute a hope and a promise for mankind. In Theory and Practice Ginni Sackett expounds on our principal teaching technique: the presentation of materials. She argues that there is an economy of movement in Montessori presentations, eliminating superfluous or redundant movements not essential to it, and the distraction of words, as Montessori states, is kept to the barest minimum. The demonstrated activity is specifically structured to offer movements which are matched to the child’s neuro-physiological potential—not necessarily the most efficient means of accomplishing the task by adult standards, but a set of movements within the emergent sensory-motor capacities of the child. Mary Caroline Parker presents the second part of her work with parents teaching them how to observe their children with joy. Ms Parker was inspired by the question of how schools can help parents experience joy in observing their children and this led to a quest to identify experiences that can contribute to the awakening of consciousness. Workshops, surveys, discussion, and interviews yielded data that led to some unexpected conclusions about sources of personal transformation. Teachers, administrators, and parents alike will be interested in the outcomes. In the Historical section Victoria Barrès takes a very broad view in her article, linking the history and the origin of Montessori's commitment and drive, her deeply felt concern for the underprivileged, to the present state of our world—where she identifies still many needs for democratization and emancipation. One of the items Ms Barrès discusses is that 'without peace, both “outer” and “inner” peace for children during their developing years, human development cannot occur on the scale necessary.’ She calls for support for the “Creating a Culture for Peace” Campaign, explaining that peace is at the start of our lives, when we learn skills to become harmonious and responsible people. In Accounts from Academia there are book reviews and descriptions of current investigative research in Montessori theory and practice. These articles are in keeping with the thrust to make Communications an academic journal. I think you will enjoy them. In the next issue, my colleague Harald Ludwig will be filling these editorial pages. We have some excellent articles in the pipeline. Finally, let me remind you to read this issue with an idea that you might write us a letter!

Cosmic Education, Third Lecture, Maria Montessori

Montessori talks extensively about sea life and the many captivating examples that will rouse and sustain the children’s interest in the concept of Cosmic Education.

A Science of Peace, Annette Haines

Dr Haines addresses the full spectrum of man’s development, from birth to adolescence, with additional emphasis on “Man as Cosmic Agent.”

The presentation of materials in the Montessori Casa dei Bambini and its relationship to the role of imitation in human learning, Ginni Sackett

Ms Sackett addresses in detail Montessori’s grasp of the importance of intrinsic motivation for imitative learning and discusses how the Montessori presentations of material assist natural development.

The Essential is Invisible to the Eye: The evolution of the parent observer, Part 2, Mary Caroline Parker

In Part I Ms Parker’s research highlights what helps parents to become competent observers and how this benefits the parent/child relationship. Part 2 focuses on four ideas about change and their sources.

Question and Answer: Observation into Practice, Rita Schaefer

Rita Schaefer Zener provides some suggestions on how to develop observation habits in the classroom.

Montessori's discoveries link children's healthy development to constructing peaceful and healthy societies, Victoria Barrès

Linking Montessori’s advocacy for children’s rights in her time, Ms Barrès discusses that still today ‘without peace, both “outer” and “inner” peace for children during their developing years, human development cannot occur on the scale necessary.’

Book Reviews: Hundert Jahre Montessori-Pädagogik-Eine Chronik der Montessori-Pädagogik in der Schweiz (a chronicle of Montessori Education in Switzerland), Harold Baumann and En el Centenario de la primera

In this new section pertinent publications are briefly reviewed. We start off with two centenary books: Hundert Jahre Montessori-Pädagogik—Eine Chronik der Montessori-Pädagogik in der Schweiz (a chronicle of Montessori Education in Switzerland) written by Harold Baumann, and En el Centenario de la primera Casa dei Bambini (1907-2007) by M. Victoria Peralta.

Book Reviews: Casa dei Bambini (1907-2007), M. Victoria Peralta

To introduce this new feature, Harald Ludwig gives some details on three Montessori dissertations—mostly empirically oriented.

New and Recent Studies Dissertations on Montessori, Harald Ludwig

Communications 2007/2

Editorial, Lynne Lawrence and André Roberfroid

Montessorians have had an extremely busy year, not only promoting the philosophy, but also organizing centenary events to celebrate and find inspiration together. Commitment to the child has been restated and reaffirmed worldwide. Many of you have sent in reports and impressions, and AMI has endeavoured to give the readership a taste of these by including glimpses both in our bulletin and on the centenary website ( Communications continues to provide indepth articles on Montessori philosophy and related topics provided by ‘friendly’ sciences whose field of interest and research touches upon our own. We are grateful to Rita Schaefer Zener and Harald Ludwig who have agreed to step up their commitment to Communications by cochairing the editorial board. They both bring much experience to this very specialized journal, and are motivated and challenged to keep on improving it. We would like to introduce a book review section, and Harald Ludwig is launching this item in 2008. Another item that we would like to feature is a “Letters to the Editor”. Most importantly, we will be trying to focus on special themes. Currently the following are being considered: early childhood education, secondary education & Erdkinder, Cosmic Education, the importance of movement, normalization, and Montessori and empirical research. If you know of an interesting contributor or article that would go with these themes, or wish to suggest another theme, please get in touch with the editorial board at publications@ The last issue of Communications this year is overflowing, and will give you some solid, enlightening, and original reading matter. As is appropriate, the first article is by Maria Montessori. It is the second lecture in a small series on Cosmic Education which we are running. In this one the apparent theme is the life cycle of chalk on earth, which serves to illuminate the far greater themes of ageing and renewal, and the forces of how life reconstructs itself continuously. One could even see the symbolism of AMI’s logo there: the three concentric circles. “Psychogeometry and Psychoarithmetic” demonstrates the originality and brilliance of Montessori’s mathematical talents. It gives a glimpse into the ideas she worked out in more detail in her great publications Psicogeometria and Psico-aritmetica. Edited by Mario Montessori Senior and with explanatory notes and illustrations by Camillo Grazzini, it will fascinate you. Mary Hayes gave a talk at the Elementary course in Baldegg, Switzerland to that course’s first graduates in 2006. It incorporates many aspects and testifies to Mary’s vast knowledge of Montessori theory across the age levels. “From Chaos towards Order” is an original and challenging article by Patricia Spinelli. Tying in with the Montessori Centenary Conference in China, an extraordinary event to also mark AMI’s entrance into that big country, we are running two articles. “Montessori Education in Modern China”, which in spite of its title, focuses mainly on the development and influence of Montessori education in China in the early years of the twentieth century. Tian Zhengping gives a detailed account by charting coverage of Montessori in the media of that time. Harald Ludwig has provided an introduction to show the influence of European and American educationists in Asia, and China in particular. “The Spiritual Preparation of the Adult” is the title of the lecture Eduardo Cuevas, AMI trainer in Vancouver, delivered to the participants of the Conference in China. It addresses the very basic tenet of Montessori education: without adults who know what Montessori is trying to do, the children do not stand to gain from Montessori education. Mary Caroline Parker, school director of East Dallas Community School, has written an extremely thorough, helpful and accessible article on how a child’s “first set of adults”, namely his parents or caregivers, can learn to appreciate their child’s development. Enjoy “The Essential is Invisible to the Eye: The Evolution of the Parent Observer, part 1”. And yes, part 2 will be waiting for you in the first issue of 2008. Ela Eckert (University of Oldenburg) is very interested in the Indian years of Montessori and has travelled to various destinations in Asia. Her contribution brings many aspects of Montessori together, particularly how it can serve children in disadvantageous situations of exile and distress. Our fixed feature the “Question and Answer” section has been taken on by our editorial board co-chair Rita Schaefer Zener. Reward and Punishment is a topic that has many angles to it, and is one often raised by parents and teachers alike. The closing article focuses on the introduction of a new network of Montessori scholars attached to European universities and institutions, who extend to you an invitation to join their network–on the condition that you can contribute to the exchange on current Montessori research. We thank the new co-chairs and wish them every success!

Cosmic Education, Second Lecture 1935/36, Maria Montessori
Psychogeometry and Psychoarithmetic (with explanatory notes by Camillo Grazzini), Maria Montessori
Graduation Address Elementary Course Baldegg, Mary Hayes
From Chaos towards Order-the Prepared Environment, Patricia Spinelli
Montessori Education in Modern China (with an introduction by Harald Ludwig), Tian Zhengping
The Spiritual Preparation of the Adult, Eduardo Cuevas
The Essential is Invisible to the Eye: The Evolution of the Parent Observer, part 1, Mary Caroline Parker
Montessori Education in Exiled Tibetan Children's Villages, Ela Eckert
Question and Answer: Reward and Punishment, Rita Zener
Introducing MORE..., Harald Ludwig

Communications 2007/1

Editorial, Mary Hayes

Two thousand and seven, the year, it cannot possibly have escaped our readership, Montessori education became a youthful centenarian. Our history item, usually one of the last in Communications, in this special year has pride of place in the opening pages. The archives yielded an adapted version of the San Lorenzo story: how it came into being, the role of the property developers, the exploitation of tenants, and how, finally, Edoardo Talamo turned around the situation and also approached Maria Montessori to take on the running of a children's house, allowing her the opportunity to further develop her research and observations. Edoardo Talamo ran a tight ship: he drew up rules and regulations that parents had to observe if they wanted their child to be in the Casa. His dissatisfaction if these were not followed to the letter even extended to Maria Montessori herself, as evidenced in the summary of his letter to her admonishing her for her not giving him advance notice whenever she expected visitors to the Casa. The first children that attended the Casa benefited greatly from this experience, as did Maria Montessori herself from her work with the children. Many a revelation presented itself through careful and attentive observation. Renilde Montessori turned the spotlight on these "Miracle Children" when she spoke at the Montessori Centenary Conference in Rome, January 7. She argued that ‘this centenary year can be considered as a vantage point from which to view the past hundred years as an epoch of inchoate phenomena that offer the immeasurable value of indirect preparation, and this Conference in particular may be seen as a fitting starting point from which to undertake…the joint enterprise of calling for the latent talents for wise and sensible education…' Nicole Marchak will delight you with "A Quest for Meaning: The Intelligence of the Child between Three and Six". She presents a concise and clear outline of the child's intelligence and makes a most compelling case for the role that Montessori can play in optimizing the development of that intelligence. The core of this issue is devoted to Maria Montessori's own writings. In 1946, Maria Montessori and Mario returned to Europe after a prolonged stay of more than six years in India. The first post-war training course was given in London in the same year, and the "1946 London lectures" were to become the foundation of AMI primary courses. Part of the archives, they have been identified as one of the first unpublished ‘treasures' to be made available to a wider Montessori public. A lecture has been selected for publication here, by way of introduction to the complete book of lectures and to complement Margaret Kernan's article on "The Place of the Outdoors in a Good Childhood: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives of Outdoor Provision in Early Childhood Education." Margaret Kernan is a researcher and a lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology, and as part of her thesis in Education, she devoted a chapter on the role of the outdoors in education throughout the last two centuries; Montessori had explicit ideas on the importance of movement and the healthy interaction between the indoor and outdoor environments, and she contributed an important element to the perception of how outdoor education can be integrated into essential experiences needed for the full development of the child. As part of our ongoing exploration of the idea of Cosmic Education, we searched the archives for fresh material and identified a series of six lectures on that topic given as part of an extension to the 21st International Course held in London in 1935. The first of the series is published in this issue, and is enhanced by a passage from Montessori's great-uncle Antonio Stoppani, a highly regarded naturalist and geologist. Cosmic Education was also one of the particular areas studied in depth by Camillo Grazzini. In his lecture "Maria Montessori's Cosmic Vision, Cosmic Plan and Cosmic Education" he points out how the three expressions, Vision, Plan and Education, all share the great qualifier ‘Cosmic' and argues that in reality they all represent different aspects of a single mode of thinking. Our traditional Question and Answer feature gives an in depth insight into a key aspect of a Montessori environment: that of working on the floor. Rita Zener expands on its significance. The many and varied items, past and present, provide solid and profound material, indispensable to Montessori. Please let us have us your reactions to particular articles and items in this issue. These will help us when planning future issues of Communications and ensure that areas of interest are not overlooked. Also, should you wish to contribute an article or a question, the deadline for copy for the next issue is August 1.

The Story of San Lorenzo, AMI
The Quarter of San Lorenzo, AMI
The Rules and Regulations of the Case dei Bambini, AMI
Summary of Signor Talamo's letter to Maria Montessori, AMI
The Miracle Children, Renilde Montessori
A Quest for Meaning: the Intelligence of the Child between Three and Six, Nicole Marchak
London Lectures 1946, Lecture 22, Maria Montessori
The Place of the Outdoors in a Good Childhood: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Outdoor Provision in Early Childhood Education, Margaret Kernan
Cosmic Education, Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori's Cosmic Vision, Cosmic Plan and Cosmic Education, Camillo Grazzini
Question and Answer: Working on the Floor, Rita Zener

Communications 2006/2

Editorial, Mary Hayes

This is the second issue of the newly-styled Communications, which presents a rich tapestry, connecting the past and the present. We recall the drive and force of Montessori’s ideas as manifest in history, and link those to today’s urgent call for Montessori ‘now more than ever’ before. A broad spectrum of Montessori’s work and endeavours is covered and her interest in the development of the child not being limited to the classroom is confirmed. She was an ardent champion for the rights of the child and Margie Mayfield has provided us with an outline of Montessori’s efforts in that respect. Montessori’s own campaigns for a better world for children was acted upon by one of her disciples, Mary Cromwell, whose harrowing description of the plight of the little refugees, victims of the Great War, and their eventual hope for solace and peace in a Montessori environment makes compelling reading. Montessori’s great interest in and talent for mathematics is well-known and her publications Psico-Geometría and Psico-Aritmética testify to her eminent understanding of the subject. Neither publication has ever been available in English. Italian professor of mathematics Benedetto Scoppola has recently embarked on a project to edit the original Italian manuscript of Psico-Geometría, with annotations, which will serve as the source text for an integral English translation to be published in the Centenary year. As an introduction, we are happy to be able to bring you an excerpt from the first chapter. We all possess a mathematical mind, and should not be daunted by mathematics. Cheryl Ferreira, AMI Trainer at the Maria Montessori Institute, London proves the former and the Question & Answer section demonstrates how Maria Montessori went on to make the most of the presence of this mathematical mind and turn the acquisition of a knowledge of mathematics into a challenge and a source of joy for the child. At the 25th International Montessori Congress in Sydney in 2005, Mary Hayes gave us an insight into “Montessori’s View of Cosmic Education” and how the child in the second plane ‘…is led along the path of Cosmic Education in a multifaceted approach.’ We learn about the significant keys to the universe and to the world in which we live that are provided for the child from six-to-twelve. In her lecture “The Role of the Specialist”, Baiba Krumins Grazzini focuses on the role of specialists who work with and help the adolescents. She says: ‘…it is not enough to have teachers…adolescents need to experience diversity of human work and human knowledge that only a variety of experts can provide.’ Maggie Zimmerman, a recent graduate of the Maria Montessori Institute, London offers a refreshing look at “normalisation”. As we stand on the threshold of the Centenary year, we reflect on Maria Montessori’s own stance on the threshold of 1907 and on her work and study which would establish her as an acclaimed pedagogue and champion of the child. To guarantee that the Montessori method will make an even greater impact in the next one hundred years, a Centenary Declaration has been created, see page ….. It can also be found on and we would urge you to promote the signing of this Declaration. Annette Haines’ lecture to the participants of the AMI Annual General Meeting leaves no doubt as to our role now and in the future. Let us heed her words and pledge: ‘To place all the children in our world at the centre of society and to assist them in becoming the transforming elements leading to a harmonious and peaceful humanity.’ In closing, we look forward to the Montessori Centenary Conference in Rome on January 6 and 7, 2007 and to counting you among our number on that auspicious occasion.

Maria Montessori: Advocate for Children, Margie Mayfield
The Spirit of La Croce Bianca and Mary Cromwell, AMI
The Montessori Method Adapted to the little French and Belgian Refugees, Mary R. Cromwell
Geometry in the Children's House edited and with annotations by Professor Benedetto Scoppola, Maria Montessori
The Mathematical Mind, Cheryl Ferreira
Question and Answer: Montessori Approach to Mathematics with extracts from a lecture by Mario M. Montessori, AMI
Montessori's View of Cosmic Education, Mary Hayes
The Role of the Specialist, Baiba Krumins Grazzini
Normalisation, Maggie Zimmerman
6 January 1907, from "The Discovery of the Child", Maria Montessori


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