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AMI Journal

Communications 2003/4

The Universality of Montessori's Discoveries, Megan Tyne, Victoria Barres, Zarin Malva, Dinny Rebild and Takako Fukatso

The Second in a Series on Montessori Endeavours Worldwide This issue of Communications presents accounts of some Montessori work undertaken with families and communities in Asia, Australia and Europe. We hope that these stories will encourage others to share their own experiences in future issues. The examples from three continents show that the Montessori approach fits well within diverse cultures, also with refugee children, street-children, and those in vulnerable environments. We thank Victoria Barres for initiating the series and for keeping the idea alive. Our thanks also go to Zarin Malva, Dinny Rebild, and Takako Fukutsu for their contributions. To give you an idea of the projects reported on: Montessori Projects—Australia At the recent Montessori Conference in Sydney, Australia it was heartening to learn that the indigenous communities especially appreciate the fact that within Montessori their own culture is respected, the children can progress at their own speed and there is no emphasis on competition. Australia is fortunate to have two Montessori projects with indigenous communities. Aseema—India Aseema, a non-governmental organisation established in 1995, promotes and protects the human rights of under-privileged children and women. It draws inspiration from the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. There has been a growing concern in India about the shortfalls in implementing the educational programmes, especially in the area of primary education. Aseema has dedicated the first phase of its programme to address exactly this issue and established the centre for street children in Mumbai on 15th December 1997. The uniqueness of this centre lies in its Montessori philosophy and teaching approach. A Montessori centre has been established for children aged two-and-a-half to seven years. It is the first of its kind for the children living on the streets of Mumbai. Fully equipped with Montessori apparatus and run by two trained teachers, the children thrive under the nourishing love and learning they receive at the centre. J.’s Story—Denmark This is the story of a two-year-old child who has lived in a refugee centre her whole life. Her parents fled from one of the many wars the world is witness to in these years, together with two other children of then eight and ten years. Both parents were traumatised and more and more J. was looked after by other residents at the centre and by her siblings. To compensate for love that could not be given, J. was fed enormous amounts of food, so by the time she began in ‘Project Small Children’ she was very obese. ‘Commitment to a Wider Community: The Global Child An Example from Southeast Asia’ This was the title of a lecture presented by Takako Fukatsu at the Montessori Conference in Sydney, Australia: Sept. 26 to 28, 2003.She describes some of the work she did in a refugee camp and how she was haunted by the pressing question of how peace can be achieved. Her experiences eventually brought her to Montessori, and later to the Educateurs sans Frontières. Together with Victoria Barres she explained how the idea of Educateurs sans Frontières can propagate and spread ‘Education as an Aid to Life’— which is how Maria Montessori herself described the pedagogy she created.

San Remo Lectures: II Human Solidarity in Time and Space, Maria Montessori

We continue our feature of Maria Montessori’s lectures delivered at the 8th International Montessori Congress, on 22-29 August, 1949, whose title was La Formazione dell’Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale (Man’s Formation in World Reconstruction). This instalment is the lecture 'Human Solidarity in Time and Space' (…) I remember reading in an Indian book a story that made a deep impression on me. It told the tale of a little shepherdess who had decided to make her environment more beautiful by planting two plants. One was for her own pleasure, the other she dedicated to God. Upon the latter she lavished special care, watering it diligently, protecting it from the sun and keeping it free of insects. The first she neglected, leaving it to the care of others. Contrary to every expectation, the plant dedicated to God died, while the other flourished. In despair, the little shepherdess wondered why her ministrations had had such disastrous results. The reply was: ‘You gave this plant too much water, you protected it from sun and insects while the plant needed chlorophyll from the sun, and insects for its growth and reproduction. You, yourself, destroyed it with your care.’ The same phenomenon occurs in the field of education. Often, the interference of family and educators, even if inspired by the best intentions, becomes an obstacle to the free development of the creative forces within the child, oppressing and suffocating his inner energies, obstructing the natural forces necessary for life.

Remembering...Sister Jerome Keary O.P., AMI
The Formation of Mind Language, Learning and Logic in Early Childhood, Annette Haines

Dr Annette Haines is an AMI Director of Training, holdings both AMI Primary and Elementary diplomas. In this lecture she talks about how language is present in a human being's life from day one. She addresses physical, biological, and psychological aspects and also touches upon the difference in language acquisition in the early years between boys and girls. "Human beings are not born with language. Little mammals, babies are born with just those instincts necessary for life. Yet, beneath this apparent helplessness (and Montessori was struck with this fact) babies can do amazing things. Newborn infants can do something we cannot: they can suck and swallow without stopping for a breath. As Dr. Montessori understood (being a physician), the necessary muscular coordinations are not yet in place which are needed for speech–coordinations which allow an extended stream of air to pass over the larynx. The baby can only breathe, cry and suck (and a few other things). But, as Montessori said ‘the child possesses a psychic life antecedent to its life of motion’. (1936/1983, p. 34) The baby can look and listen. (…) Language learning starts as motor movement and remains motor movement stimulated by auditory signals of the mother. The mother does not teach her baby to talk, nor does the baby teach himself. Both are doing this work together, equally drawing on what Howard Gardner calls a universal intelligence of language which is over and above both of them. The infant’s body moves ‘in a precise shared rhythm with the organisation of the speech patterns of the culture’. Dr Haines concludes " Language is made up of words, and words in language make certain patterns and take on a certain structure which give them their meaning. These patterns adapt to a certain order and, for the most part, maintain that order. The child, with each new generation, absorbs and maintains the patterns, the structure and the order of language. In completing this task, order is created in the child’s inner world; order is given to that internal universe, and to all the matter and energy of that universe which is the mind."

Impressions of "The Child as Builder of Humanity" Sydney, Australia-September 2003, Patricia Wallner

Patricia Wallner wrote a glowing report on the Lead-in Conference “The Child as Builder of Humanity” that was held in Sydney, Australia—September 2003. Share some of her remarks here and start getting reading for the big event in 2005: the 25th International Montessori Congresss, also to take place in Sydney. "Imagine a beautiful city, a Darling Harbour city, fingers of land interlaced with water sparkling in the sun and one of the most famous buildings in the world arching whitely into the blue sky. (…) Picture a convention centre with walls of glass, its main hall lined with displays of books, art supplies, and Montessori materials presented by old friends like Nienhuis and Gonzagarredi." Imagine arriving at this centre and being met in the parking lot by a smiling hospitality volunteer sporting a bright pink scarf who escorted us into the elevator and rode up with us to be sure we had no problems finding the registration table and our personalised satchels containing the conference information. (…) Meanwhile, the 2005 International Montessori Congress in Sydney is now being planned and prepared for with enthusiasm (…) The women and men who planned this forerunner to the Congress did a superb job. Thank you to the Australian AMI Alumni Association and the Montessori Association of New Zealand Inc. …I urge you all, save either your dollars, euros, yen, pesos or all of these currencies and start planning for July 2005. If the conference this past September is any indication, the 25th International Montessori Congress will be an experience none of us should miss!

Report on the 56th Annual DPI/NGO Conference at the United Nations, Silvia C. Dubovoy
This year 70 years ago... Focus on important events of 1933, AMI
Changes to Blueprints, AMI
Question and Answer: Writing and Left-handedness, AMI

This issue's "Question and Answer' feature focuses on 'Writing and Left-handedness' and briefly outlines Montessori's ideas on the indirect and direct preparations for writing, and how she connects motor and intellectual activity.

Announcements, AMI

Communications 2003/2-3

San Remo Lectures: 1 The Creative Capacity of Early Childhood, Maria Montessori

The 8th International Montessori Congress took place from 22-29 August, 1949. The title of the Congress was La Formazione dell’Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale (Man’s Formation in World Reconstruction). The four major lectures that Maria Montessori delivered then have been retranslated by Renilde Montessori from the original Italian and are being featured in this and forthcoming issues of Communications. In her introduction to the first lecture Renilde Montessori writes: ‘If one’s thoughts tend to seek symbolism in nature, the four San Remo lectures can be seen as verdant hillocks at the foot of the august mountain that is the work of Maria Montessori. The title of the first lecture is “The Creative Capacity of Early Childhood”. In it, as in the other three, as in all her teaching, throughout her life, she enjoins humanity, not only parents, educators and other specialists in care of children, to study the child.

Remembering... Anne Marie Gillet, Margaret Stephenson, Dea Vollgraff, Margot Waltuch, AMI
Report of the Annual General Meeting, AMI
Financial Report-2002, AMI
Report on the Activities of the MM 75 Fund in 2002, AMI
April in Amsterdam: Photographs, AMI
General Report on AMI Training Centres in 2002, AMI
Other Reports, AMI
Why the Extended Work Period is Central to Montessori Elementary Pedagogy, Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

Phyllis Pottish-Lewis is an AMI teacher trainer at the Elementary level. In the article “Why the Extended Work Period is Central to Montessori Elementary Pedagogy” she argues that ‘If we are to continue to implement authentically Dr. Maria Montessori’s tradition of assisting the child in his self-construction allowing for spontaneous learning and spontaneous self-discipline, we must persevere in the application of all her principles and theories in an atmosphere of freedom. Her theories and their genuine execution permit the child to develop according to his individual inclinations and potential.’ The article discusses the following main aspects of Montessori school-life at the elementary level: Fostering Independence, Importance of Freedom, Benefits of Offering Children Freedom to Act, Development of Social Characteristics, Emergence of Spontaneous Discipline, Drawbacks of Outside Teachers.

This year 80 years ago... Focus on important events of 1923, AMI
Training of Trainers Programme at Assistants to Infancy Level, AMI
Question and Answer: Transition from Infant Community to Primary, AMI

In this particular “Question and Answer” Judi Orion, Denver, AMI director of training at the Assistants to Infancy level, deals with some of the main aspects to be taken into account when considering moving a child from an Infant Community to a Primary class. Ms Orion focuses on how best we can prepare teachers and parents to anticipate this move from Nido to Primary and be open to this transition when the child is ready, not when the administration or teachers are ready. She outlines which signs should be looked out for and discusses extensively how the transition needs to be flexible to meet the needs of each individual child and describes the basic differences between the two environments that should be borne in mind.

Changes to AMI Blueprints for 3-6 Materials, AMI

This item deals with changes in the production of the materials for the 3-6 Prepared Environment, which results from revisions to the AMI blueprints. The recognised manufacturers of the approved materials are notified of any changes and they in turn make the relevant changes in the production of those materials. Sensorial Material: Geometry Cabinet For some time now the seventh triangle—the acute-angled, scalene triangle—has been part of the material. The question which arose about this triangle is where it should be placed in the cabinet, as there are only six spaces in the drawer of triangles. It has been decided that it should be kept in the drawer of the four quadrilaterals. This drawer contains the rhombus, the parallelogram and the two trapeziums (U.S. trapezoids), one acute-angled and one right-angled. Arithmetic: Spindle Boxes For many years there have been two containers for the spindles: one with compartments for the quantities from 0 to 4 and the other with compartments for the quantities from 5 to 9. From now on, there will only be a single container. This means that the children can see all the numbers from 0 to 9 at the same time. Besides introducing the concept of the zero, the latest design reflects what children have discovered with the Number Rods, but now the quantities are separated. In fact, that is the way Dr. Montessori originally designed the material. Geography: Puzzle Maps of Continents There have been two different productions of this material in place for some time, both of which are accepted. One set has a wooden base on which the pieces representing countries or continents rest or are placed. The other set has no wooden base; the pieces are kept in a separate container. As regards the position of the knobs, there will now be two options as to where they should be placed. The knob may be placed where the capital of the country is situated or in the centre of the piece.

Announcements, AMI

Communications 2003/1

Message from AMI's President, Renilde Montessori
Communiqué on 8th International Montessori Congress, Maria Montessori

In a Press Conference (1948) Maria Montessori announced her plans for a new Congress. We quote from the pertinent Communiqué on 8th International Montessori Congress. Dr. Maria Montessori, the world-famous Educator, stated (…) ‘My life has been spent in the research of truth. I have scrutinised human nature at its origins, both in the East and in the West, through the study of the children and, though it is forty years now since I began my work, childhood seems to be an inexhaustible source of revelations and—let me say it—of hope…’ ‘In my new effort to illustrate the contribution of a better humanity or society, I have asked the Association Montessori Internationale to organise a Congress in San Remo, Italy. The congress will take place from the 7-14 November* on the theme “Man's Formation in World Reconstruction” and I aim to invite all those interested in peace to take part in it. I feel the urgency that all forces should be united and used to avert from humanity the repetition of these catastrophes which become ever more terrible.’ *The 8th International Montessori Congress did not take place on the date mentioned, but was held from 22-29 August, 1949. AMI is planning to publish the lectures delivered by Maria Montessori herself at that Congress in future issues of Communications.

In Memoriam: Connie Corbett, Annette Haines
Grace and Courtesy Lessons and the Birth of Social Life, Ginni Sackett

In her article “Grace & Courtesy Lessons and the Birth of Social Life” Ginni Sackett, an AMI Teacher Trainer at the Primary Level, explores the underlying philosophy and practice of this very important aspect in Montessori education. As she points out ‘the lessons are an essential component of the Practical Life Area of the Casa: offered when and as needed to all children from the time they enter the Casa until they leave. As a part of Practical Life, offered to children in the First Plane of Development, these lessons specifically address the development and refinement of order and of movement by an emergent personality, and provide raw material for the child’s adaptation to her culture and society. They isolate and model controlled and orderly movements that have a social effect or a social significance in the community, including the controlled and orderly movement which is spoken language. The extent of Grace and Courtesy is wide. They guide each child’s participation in the real social life of the Casa and facilitate skills to meet the everyday challenge of ‘solving social problems, behaving properly, and pursuing aims acceptable to all’.

Annual General Meeting of the Association Montessori Internationale, Agenda and Venue, AMI
Nominations for the AMI Board, AMI
Secretarial Report for 2002, AMI
Meditation on Silence, Mario M. Montessori
This year 90 years ago... Focus on important events of 1913, AMI

Time Lines are one facet of children’s work in a Montessori class. They provoke research and they provide tangible personal links with people and events from the children’s own past and present. This new feature is an extension of that idea, charting, year by year, the milestones, developments, achievements, and encounters which combined to make the rich and colourful fabric of Maria Montessori’s work and life. This item is launched with highlights from 1913, with special emphasis on the International Training Course in Rome, the first in a series of courses spanning almost forty years. January: First International Training Course in Rome Dr. Montessori gave her first ever training course in 1909 in Città di Castello. By 1911 and 1912, many people in education across many countries and continents had heard of this new and revolutionary method. There was avid interest in finding out more about the Casa dei Bambini, the ideas behind it and the woman who had developed and brought about this ‘miracle’. Interested people from all over the world were writing to Dr. Montessori, literally queuing on her doorstep, requesting to be trained so that they could take back the method to their home country. Less than five years after the first course, Dr. Montessori held an international course in Rome, under the patronage of the Queen Mother Margherita of Savoy and under the auspices of the National Montessori Committee. On January 15, the course opene with a splendid welcome reception organised by her great friend, admirer and supporter Marchesa Maria Maraini Guerieri-Gonzaga. …Giacomo Boni (…) took the students on a guided tour of the excavations he had carried out on the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. These excavations had brought to light Roman ruins dating back not only to the Republican period but also to the early period when Rome was ruled by kings. This seemingly rather modern introduction to the course was one much desired by Dr. Montessori herself, who wished to give her students a taste of Italian art and culture since most of them were visiting Italy for the very first time. On Monday, January 20 Maria Montessori began her own lectures for the course. (…) All of the ninety students enrolled on the course were foreign and three-quarters were American. From the English language weekly newspaper the Roman Herald (January, 1913) we quote ‘(…) heads of schools both public and private, inspectors of education, teachers [from] all kinds [of] kindergartens, (...) physicians, psychologists, in fact all who have a close interest in little children and their welfare, have flocked to the Dotteressa (sic) (…) Last year a few students from America, England and France studied with the Dotteressa (sic) and since then they have started experimental schools. Other countries represented [were] Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, India, China, Japan, Brazil, Chile, The Argentine Republic, Canada, Mexico, etc.’

Question and Answer: The Environment for the Six-to-Twelve Year-Old Child, AMI

This issue’s Question and Answer Section addresses in detail the desirability of dividing the Environment for the Six-to-Twelve Year-Old Child: whether we should subdivide the Second Plane by having separate environments for the six-nine year-olds and the nine-twelve year-olds. Or whether we should have just one environment for the entire six-twelve group? Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins, Directors of Training at the International Centre for Montessori Studies Foundation of Bergamo, provide ample arguments from Maria Montessori’s writings pertaining to this particular question.

An Environment for Adolescents: 'Erdkinder', AMI

A plan for this environment has been outlined by Maria Montessori in a pamphlet entitled “The Erdkinder and the Function of the University”. In the section dedicated to the Erdkinder, the three pivotal elements included are a farm, a hostel and a shop. These are the bare bones of an environment which can become rich, versatile and productive and, as the need arises, may expand into a veritably self-sustaining working community. Side by side with an academic education suited to young people who have gone through ‘the advanced method’ mentioned by Maria Montessori, this multifaceted environment will provide for young adolescents, side by side with academic instruction, apprenticeships in a variety of arts, crafts, trades, professions and vocations taught by experts in their field. Young people of this age, therefore, are not condemned to the anxieties of intellectual achievement as an ultimate end. They can continue to make purposeful use of ‘the hand —instrument of the intelligence’ thereby not only enhancing their intellect but, more pragmatically, enhancing their possibilities. The self-assurance acquired will allow them to develop hardiness and equanimity with which to face life’s vicissitudes. The qualifications of the teacher of adolescents should be those required to teach in secondary/high school. There could also be vocational experts and professionals in their own field. In view of this there is no specific Montessori training required. The adolescents are provided with a prepared environment, not a school. Dr. Maria Montessori outlined the syllabus and methods without going into specific detail. The Pedagogical Committee does not intend to establish training programmes or offer specific guidelines other than those contained in the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori herself. For further reading on ‘Erdkinder’ the Committee recommends Appendices A & B of Montessori’s book From Childhood to Adolescence (currently published in English in the Clio Series and by Kalakshetra).

Announcements, AMI
Membership Fees, AMI

Communications 2002/4

To Our Readers, Mary Hayes
Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI
La Maestra, Maria Montessori

Graduating from an AMI course is just the first step in a very challenging but rewarding process, as is clearly indicated in this lecture given by Maria Montessori on an international course in Rome, in the early thirties of the last century. By taking a different stance from what is generally common in education, the directress allows the child to develop according to his own inner directives. But it is not only the child who develops. In the words of Maria Montessori ‘this school is both for the teacher and for the which the one contributes to the development of the other’. In 2002/1 we ran lecture 1. From lecture 2 we now quote… ‘The actual task of education is shared between the teacher and the environment. The latter plays the greater part in the teaching of notions since, in order to absorb them, special materials are used by the children. It is clear that the ones to be active are the children and not the teacher. The teacher is, however, not eliminated; only her task is changed. In our concept of self-education the teacher's activity becomes prudent, delicate and multiform. Her words, her energy, her severity, are no longer necessary; they are replaced by a watchful wisdom and by spreading her attention to the whole of the community. Her task consists in serving, in going to assistance and in retiring; in talking or being silent according to the case. As you see, to do this she must acquire a moral essence which has never been asked of her by any other method: she must be calm, patient, charitable, humble. In the old method her preparation was the use of instructing words. Here it is the mastery and possession of virtue. …The teacher's task is however easy. She is the means of putting the child in relation to its responses. Therefore, she must know how to choose the proper material and know how to awaken a deep interest in the child. In order to do this, the teacher must have a thorough knowledge of the use of the material, the exact technique of the presentation and be able to recognise when the child is ready for this material so that using it will be of really efficient help. …Another very essential attribute the teacher must acquire is to have very clear in her mind what is the “sequence of the material” and which are the “parallel exercises”. Besides the attitude, the knowledge of the material and how and when to present it, there is a third essential for the teacher. She must take vigilant care of the order. The teacher must also put the child into contact with a sense of order. To do this, she must give the child some external rules of discipline. These are very simple - but sufficient to guarantee peaceful work to the whole class. … Above all, the teacher must take care that the child who is absorbed in his work is not disturbed by any other child. She must be as a guardian angel for those souls who are concentrated in an effort that will uplift them.’

Report on the AMI/USA National Conference, Roelie Murphy

The AMI-USA national conference “Educate for Peace” was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 2002. Full proceedings will be published in due course and available from the AMI-USA office. Here are some highlights of two of the main lectures. Renilde Montessori spoke on “The Garden of Eden” and Sandra Girlato on “Education as an Agent of Peace”.

The Garden of Eden, Renilde Montessori

Fifty years ago Maria Montessori left her work in the hands of her followers to be carried forth with diligence, intelligence and insight into its relevance - a relevance that will persist as long as children continue to be brought into the world. …Already during Maria Montessori’s lifetime - and most certainly after her death - Montessori became a concept open to an endless variety of interpretations, subject to a kaleidoscopic multiplicity of definitions. This can be seen from two contradictory perspectives: either as a trivialising fragmentation of the still elusive concept of education as an aid to life, or as the random sprouting of seeds whenever and wherever they fell on fertile ground. If we choose the latter, an image emerges of an inchoate wilderness more akin to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden than to the biblical Garden of Eden of our title. Taking a closer look at the rambling plantation, we realise that this is the human way to re-create The Garden of Eden, for re-create it we must, since, once having tasted the fruit of knowledge, a return to the original is denied us. Knowledge, once attained, is ineradicable. The pursuit of knowledge is undeniably humankind’s greatest passion and the thought of reinstating the misperceived bliss of ignorance is grotesquely contrary to our evolutionary ethos. …The environment we prepare for our children, whether in the home, in educational institutions or anywhere else, should be founded on truth and honesty and free from hollow absolutes of which we ourselves are not quite persuaded. A clear and transparent milieu will allow the child the liberty to learn the disciplines of existence, acquiring the knowledge it seeks by following the compelling dictates inherent in its human condition. Thus, the physical, intellectual, and spiritual properties of its world will become the prime matter for its self-construction. …In the Montessori Prepared Environments for children from three to six years of age, now and again, at a propitious moment, a gentle event takes place called The Silence Game. It had its serendipitous origin in the first Casa dei Bambini in Rome and, to all intents and purposes, was created by the children themselves, as recorded in The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori. Children are not afraid of silence, being as they are in a state of grace and as yet unthreatened by the stillness of infinity. It might take decades, possibly centuries, probably millennia for the entire population of the earth to reach a level of concord that will allow the re-creation of a global Garden of Eden.

Education as an Agent of Peace, Sandra Girlato

n the aftermath of September 11 and in the current climate of heightened tension between nations, the need to realise a different kind of world is ever more necessary. On an earth whose inhabitants have the capability to destroy the planet many times over, educating new human beings who are educated for peace and live not only to maintain harmony, but who seek every opportunity and make every effort to promote the positive art of peacemaking, is not only a necessary goal but an essential component for the continued survival of our race. We must educate for peace versus educating for the avoidance of war. We must strive to create a positive climate for peace versus strategies for the diminishment of strife. Montessori in the book Education and Peace, makes the following statement: ‘Peace is a goal that can be attained only through common accord, and the means to achieve this unity for peace are twofold: first, an immediate effort to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence—in other words, to prevent war—and second, a long-term effort to establish a lasting peace among men. Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education. We must convince the world of the need for a universal, collective effort to build the foundation for peace’(Montessori, 1949a, p.24). The central or core concern of any education should be the education for peace. … Dr. Maria Montessori states, ‘This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind. Not reconstruction, but help for the constructive work that the human soul is called upon to do, and to bring to fruition; a work of formation which brings out the immense potentialities with which children, the sons of men, are endowed’ (Montessori, 1949b, p. 17). … ‘Education, therefore, of little ones is important, especially from three to six years of age, because this is the embryonic period for the formation of character and of society, (just as the period from birth to three is that for forming the mind, and the prenatal period that for forming the body). What the child achieves between three and six does not depend on doctrine but on a divine directive which guides his spirit to construction. These are the germinal origins of human behaviour and they can only be evolved in the right surroundings of freedom and order’(Montessori, 1949a, p. 242-243). How will education be an agent for peace? The evidence for this is revealed to the person who observes in a Montessori prepared environment for three-to-six year-old children. The primary environment is one that has, through observation and experiment, been specifically created and designed for the children in the social embryo phase of their development. It is a classroom that has not been arbitrarily constructed or based on some practitioner’s theory of the moment; instead it has evolved in response to the natural laws that guide the child between the ages of three and six. …Mahatma Gandhi celebrated Montessori with the following words, in a letter to her dated November 19, 1931, ‘You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering’(Ghandi, 1953).

The Universality of Montessori's Discoveries The First in a Series on Montessori Endeavours Worldwide, AMI
25th International Montessori Congress Sydney, 2005, AMI
Question and Answer: Distance Learning, AMI

Distance Learning - A question posed again and again Question: I have become very interested in the Montessori method of education and would like to study for an AMI diploma. Can I do this by a “distance learning programme”? Answer: The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. Its flexibility provides a matrix within which each individual child's inner directives freely guide the child toward wholesome growth. The preparation of the adult about to undertake work with young children demands a high degree of self-discipline and commitment, and a professional attitude. This preparation can only be achieved through immersion in the Montessori theory under the supervision of experienced lecturers. Furthermore, the special materials to be used with the children in a Montessori class require individual training and supervised practice—as each piece of apparatus has a function in the total scheme of the Montessori Prepared Environment. These fundamental aspects cannot be covered in sufficient depth by distance learning. Courses leading to the AMI diploma are run by AMI-accredited training centres throughout the world. These courses are internationally recognised for their high standard and authenticity. Montessori training is a process of re-orientation where students begin to discover for themselves the profound truths underlying the Montessori approach. Courses are full-time and are offered over an academic year or several summers. The course programme includes lectures, seminars and demonstrations on Montessori philosophy, child development and the Montessori materials. Each course also includes significant components of observation, supervised practice with the materials, material making and teaching practice. Students prepare an album which details the purpose, use and presentation of each piece of material. In the words of Dr. Montessori the teacher ‘must give her lesson, plant the seed and then disappear; observing and waiting’ (The Call of Education, Vol. 11, no. IV, December, 1925). This apparently simple proverb continues to be a piece of worthwhile advice and a source of inspiration. It is at the core of the role of the Montessori teacher.

Announcements, AMI
Membership Fees, AMI

Communications 2002/2-3

Second Assembly of the Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI


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