Introduction of Montessori Education to a remote Indigenous Early Childhood program: A study of the ways in which Aboriginal students respond

  • Catherine Claire Holmes The University of Notre Dame Australia
Keywords: indigenous, Aboriginal, early childhood, Montessori, student response


This article explores the ways Ngaanyatjarra students in Australia respond to Montessori pedagogy in a remote Aboriginal early childhood context. The article initially presents key literature pertaining to early childhood education, Aboriginal education, and Montessori education in Australia. The qualitative methodology underpinning the research is subsequently outlined. The approach emphasized in this research is that of interpretivism. The data analysis process highlighted three headings: concentration and engagement, student autonomy, and student independence. The findings of this research indicate the potential for Montessori pedagogy as a viable alternative practice of education for remote Aboriginal early childhood contexts, as Montessori pedagogy may align more harmoniously with the cultural dispositions of Ngaanyatjarra students. Finally, recommendations are presented in light of the research.

Author Biography

Catherine Claire Holmes, The University of Notre Dame Australia

Catherine began teaching at the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School Network in the Central Desert, Australia. With the support of the Montessori Children’s Foundation (MCF), she transitioned the Kiwirrkurra and Papulankutja (Blackstone) Remote Community Early Childhood classrooms from traditional teaching and learning practices to the Montessori approach. Catherine completed her Montessori Diploma (2.5 to 6+ years) at the AMI Montessori Training Centre in Perugia, Italy. Catherine also holds a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Masters of Education (by Research) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Catherine is currently completing a PhD at the Australian National University on "A study of child's play from an Indigenous perspective in Australia: An interpretive approach to socialisation". 


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