Authentic Montessori: The Dottoressa’s View at the End of Her Life Part I

The Environment

Keywords: Childhood education, Montessori, alternative education, school curricula, school environment

Abstract

Maria Montessori developed a form of education in the first half of the last century that came to be called by her surname, and research indicates it often has positive outcomes. In the years since its development, tens of thousands of schools worldwide have called their programs Montessori, yet implementations vary widely, leading to confusion about what Montessori edu­cation is. Although there are varied opinions, here we use Dr. Montessori’s books and transcribed lectures to describe the conclusions of her work at her life’s end. We term this final conclusion authentic in the sense of “done in the traditional or original way,” (the primary definition of the adjective in Oxford English Dictionary, 2019). We do not claim that the original is superior to variants; this is an issue for empirical science. Our overarching goal is to provide researchers, policy makers, administrators, teachers, and parents with a benchmark from which to measure and evaluate variations from the education method Dr. Montessori bequeathed at the end of her life. In the ongoing search for alternative educational methods, the time-honored and burgeoning Mon­tessori system is of considerable interest. Dr. Montessori conceptualized the system as a triangle for which the environment, the teacher, and the child formed the legs. Part I of this two-part article examines Dr. Montessori’s view of what constitutes the environment, in terms of its material, tem­poral, and social features. An appendix to Part II summarizes the features.

In the ongoing search for alternative educational methods, the time-honored and burgeoning Montessori system is of considerable interest. Dr. Montessori conceptualized the system as a triangle for which the environment, the teacher, and the child formed the legs. Part I of this two-part article examines Dr. Montessori’s view of what constitutes the environment, in terms of its material, temporal, and social features. An appendix to Part II summarizes the features.

Author Biography

Angeline S Lillard, University of Virginia
Professor of Psychology

References

Ansari, A., Purtell, K., & Gershoff, E. (2016). Classroom age composition and the school readiness of 3-and 4-year-olds in the head start program. Psychological science, 27, 53-63.

Ansari, A., & Winsler, A. (2014). Montessori public school pre-k programs and the school readiness of low-income black and latino children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106, 1066-1079. doi: 10.1037/a0036799

Bassok, D., Latham, S., & Rorem, A. (2016). Is kindergarten the new first grade? AERA Open, I, 1-31. doi: 10.1177/2332858415616358

Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological science, 19, 1207-1212.

Besançon, M., & Lubart, T. (2008). Differences in the development of creative competencies in children schooled in diverse learning environments. Learning and Individual Differences, 18, 381-389. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2007.11.009

Besançon, M., Lubart, T., & Barbot, B. (2013). Creative giftedness and educational opportunities. Educational and Child Psychology, 30, 79-88.

Bhatia, P., Davis, A., & Shamas-Brandt, E. (2015). Educational gymnastics: The effectiveness of Montessori practical life activities in developing fine motor skills in kindergartners. Early Education and Development, 26, 594-607. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.995454

Brown, K. E., & Lewis, C. (2017). A comparison of reading and math achievement for african American third grade students in Montessori and other magnet schools. Journal of Negro Education, 86, 439-448. doi: 10.7709/jnegroeducation.86.4.0439

Byun, W., Blair, S. N., & Pate, R. R. (2013). Objectively measured sedentary behavior in preschool children: Comparison between Montessori and traditional preschools. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10, 2.

Cox, M. V., & Rowlands, A. (2000). The effect of three different educational approaches on children's drawing ability: Steiner, Montessori and traditional. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 485-503.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.

Culclasure, B., Fleming, D. J., Riga, G., & Sprogis, A. (2018). An evaluation of Montessori education in south carolina’s public schools. The Riley Institute at Furman University. Greenville, SC.

Debs, M. C., & Brown, K. E. (2017). Students of color and public Montessori schools: A review of the literature. Journal of Montessori Research, 3, 1-15.

DeVries, R., & Goncu, A. (1988). Interpersonal relations in four-year-old dyads from constructivist and Montessori programs. Early Child Development & Care, 33, 11-27.

Dhiksha, J., & Suresh, A. (2016). Self-esteem and academic anxiety of high school students with montessori and traditional method of education. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 7, 543.

Dohrmann, K. R., Nishida, T. K., Gartner, A., Lipsky, D. K., & Grimm, K. J. (2007). High school outcomes for students in a public Montessori program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22, 205-217.

Elkind, D. (1983). Montessori education: Abiding contributions and contemporary challenges. Young Children, 38, 3-10.

Fisher, A. V., Godwin, K. E., & Seltman, H. (2014). Visual environment, attention allocation, and learning in young children when too much of a good thing may be bad. Psychological Science, 25, 1362-1370. doi: 10.1177/0956797614533801

Giardello, P. (2014). Pioneers in early childhood education. London: Routledge.

Harris, P. L. (2012). Trusting what you're told: How children learn from others. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hoxby, C. M. (2000). The effects of class size on student achievement: New evidence from population variation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 1239-1285.

?man, E. D., Dani?man, ?., Akin Demircan, Z., & Yaya, D. (2017). The effect of the Montessori education method on pre-school children’s social competence–behaviour and emotion regulation skills. Early Child Development and Care, 1-15.

Justice, L. M., Logan, J. A., Purtell, K., Bleses, D., & Hogden, A. (2017). Does mixing age groups in early childhood education settings support children’s language development? Applied Developmental Science, 1-13.

Kabisch, N., van den Bosch, M., & Lafortezza, R. (2017). The health benefits of nature-based solutions to urbanization challenges for children and the elderly–a systematic review. Environmental research, 159, 362-373.

Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. science, 319, 966-968.

Kay?l?, G. (2018). The effect of Montessori method on cognitive tempo of kindergarten children. Early Child Development and Care, 188, 327-355. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2016.1217849

Kidd, C., Piantadosi, S. T., & Aslin, R. N. (2012). The Goldilocks effect: Human infants allocate attention to visual sequences that are neither too simple nor too complex. PLoS ONE, 7, e36399. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036399

Kidd, C., Piantadosi, S. T., & Aslin, R. N. (2014). The Goldilocks effect in infant auditory attention. Child Development, 85, 1795-1804.

Kirkham, J. A., & Kidd, E. (2016). The effect of steiner, Montessori, and national curriculum education upon children's pretence and creativity. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 1-20. doi: 10.1002/jocb.83

Kubovy, M. (1999). Pleasures of the mind. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener & N. Schwartz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 134–154). New York: Russsell Sage Foundation.

Lancy, D. F. (2016). Playing with knives: The socialization of self?initiated learners. Child development, 87, 654-665.

Langlois, J. H., Roggman, L. A., Casey, R. J., Ritter, J. M., Rieser-Danner, L. A., & Jenkins, V. Y. (1987). Infant preferences for attractive faces: Rudiments of a stereotype? Developmental Psychology, 23, 363-369.

Lewkowicz, D. J., & Hansen-Tift, A. M. (2012). Infants deploy selective attention to the mouth of a talking face when learning speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 1431-1436.

Lillard, A. S. (2012). Preschool children's development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs. Journal of School Psychology, 50, 379-401. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2012.01.001

Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The science behind the genius (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Lillard, A. S. (in press). Rethinking education: Montessori's approach. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Lillard, A. S., & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313, 1893-1894. doi: 10.1126/science.1132362

Lillard, A. S., & Heise, M. J. (2016). Removing supplementary materials from Montessori classrooms changed child outcomes. Journal of Montessori Research, 2, 17-27.

Lillard, A. S., Heise, M. J. R., Eve M., Tong, X., Hart, A., & Bray, P. M. (2017). Montessori preschool elevates and equalizes child outcomes: A longitudinal study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01783

LoBue, V., Bloom Pickard, M., Sherman, K., Axford, C., & DeLoache, J. S. (2013). Young children's interest in live animals. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 57-69.

Lopata, C., Wallace, N. V., & Finn, K. V. (2005). Comparison of academic achievement between Montessori and traditional education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 20, 5-13.

Mallett, J. D., & Schroeder, J. L. (2015). Academic achievement outcomes: A comparison of Montessori and non-Montessori public elementary school students. Journal of Elementary Education, 25, 39-53.

Mark, G., Gonzalez, V. M., & Harris, J. (2005). No task left behind?: Examining the nature of fragmented work. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems.

Mark, G., Gudith, D., & Klocke, U. (2008). The cost of interrupted work: More speed and stress. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Mark, G., Iqbal, S. T., Czerwinski, M., & Johns, P. (2014). Bored mondays and focused afternoons: The rhythm of attention and online activity in the workplace. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Ontario.

Marshall, C. (2017). Montessori education: A review of the evidence base. Science of Learning, 2. doi: 10.1038/s41539-017-0012-7

Mix, K. S., Smith, L. B., Stockton, J. D. S., Cheng, Y.-L., & Barterian, J. A. (2017). Grounding the symbols for place value: Evidence from training and long term exposure to base-10 models. Journal of Cognition and Development, 18, 129-151. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2016.1180296

Montessori, M. (1917/1965). Spontaneous activity in education: The advanced Montessori method (F. Simmonds, Trans.). New York: Schocken.

Montessori, M. (1932/1992). Education and peace. Oxford: Clio Press.

Montessori, M. (1939). The secret of childhood (B. B. Carter, Trans.). New York: Frederick A. Stokes.

Montessori, M. (1946/1963). Education for a new world. Madras, India: Kalakshetra.

Montessori, M. (1948/1967). To educate the human potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications.

Montessori, M. (1948/1976). From childhood to adolescence. New York: Schocken.

Montessori, M. (1949/1974). Childhood education. Chicago: Henry Regnery.

Montessori, M. (1956). The child in the family (N. R. Cirillo, Trans.). New York: Avon.

Montessori, M. (1961/2007). What you should know about your child (A. G. Prakasam, Trans.). Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson.

Montessori, M. (1964). The Montessori method (A. George, Trans.). New York: Schocken.

Montessori, M. (1967a). The absorbent mind (C. A. Claremont, Trans.). New York: Henry Holt.

Montessori, M. (1967b). The discovery of the child (M. J. Costello, Trans.). New York: Ballantine.

Montessori, M. (1972). Education and peace (H. R. Lane, Trans.). Washington D.C.: Henry Regnery.

Montessori, M. (1989). The child, society, and the world: Unpublished speeches and writings (Vol. 7). Oxford: Clio.

Montessori, M. (1994a). Creative development in the child i (R. Ramachandran, Trans.). Madras, India: Kalakshetra Press.

Montessori, M. (1994b). Creative development in the child ii (R. Ramachandran, Trans.). Madras, India: Kalakshetra Press.

Montessori, M. (1997). The California lectures of maria

Montessori, 1915. Oxford: Clio.

Montessori, M. (2012). The 1946 london lectures. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing.

Montessori, M. (2013a). The 1913 rome lectures. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing.

Montessori, M. (2013b). The house of children: Lecture, kodaikanal, 1944. The NAMTA Journal, 38, 11-19. doi: retrieved from ERIC database https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1078013.pdf

Montessori, M. (2017). Montessori speaks to parents. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing.

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25, 1159-1168. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581

O'Donnell, M. (2007). Maria Montessori (Vol. 7). London: Bloomsbury.

Pellegrini, A., & Bohn, C. (2005). The role of recess in children's cognitive performance and school adjustment. Educational Researcher, 34, 13-19. doi: 10.3102/0013189X034001013

Peng, H.-H., & Md-Yunus, S. (2014). Do children in Montessori schools perform better in the achievement test? A taiwanese perspective. International Journal of Early Childhood, 46, 299-311.

Plato. (1970). The laws (T. J. Saunders, Trans.). Middlesex, England: Penguin Classics.

Rathunde, K. R., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005a). Middle school students’ motivation and quality of experience: A comparison of Montessori and traditional school environments. American Journal of Education, 111, 341-371.

Rathunde, K. R., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005b). The social context of middle school: Teachers, friends, and activities in Montessori and traditional school environments. Elementary School Journal, 106, 59-79.

Resnick, L. B., & Hall, M. W. (1998). Learning organizations for sustainable education reform. Daedalus, 127, 89-118.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Curby, T. W., Grimm, K. J., Nathanson, L., & Brock, L. L. (2009). The contribution of children’s self-regulation and classroom quality to children’s adaptive behaviors in the kindergarten classroom. Developmental psychology, 45, 958.

Rodriguez, L., Irby, B. J., Brown, G., Lara-Alecio, R., & Galloway, M. M. (2005). An analysis of second grade reading achievement related to pre-kindergarten Montessori and transitional bilingual education. In V. Gonzalez & J. Tinajero (Eds.), Review of research and practice (Vol. 3, pp. 45-65). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Rogoff, B., Sellers, M. J., Pirrotta, S., Fox, N., & White, S. H. (1975). Age of assignment of roles and responsibilities to children. Human Development, 18, 353-369.

Rose, S. E., Jolley, R. P., & Charman, A. (2012). An investigation of the expressive and representational drawing development in national curriculum, steiner, and Montessori schools. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6, 83.

Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice. New York: Harper Collins.

Stecher, B., Bohrnstedt, G., Kirst, M., McRobbie, J., & Williams, T. (2001). Class-size reduction in California: A story of hope, promise, and unintended consequences. Phi Delta Kappan, 82, 670-674.

Taggart, J., Heise, M. J., & Lillard, A. S. (2018). The real thing: Children's preference for actual over pretend activities. Developmental Science, 21, e12582. doi: 10.1111/desc.12582

Veenman, S. (1995). Cognitive and noncognitive effects of multigrade and multi-age classes: A best-evidence synthesis. Review of educational research, 65, 319-381.

Veenman, S. (1996). Effects of multigrade and multi-age classes reconsidered. Review of Educational Research, 66, 323-340.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wang, Y., & Su, Y. (2009). False belief understanding: Children catch it from classmates of different ages. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 33, 331-337. doi: 10.1177/0165025409104525

Whitehurst, G. J., & Chingos, M. M. (2011). Class size: What research says and what it means for state policy. Washington DC: Brookings Institution.

Wilder, S. (2014). Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: A meta-synthesis. Educational Review, 66, 377-397.

Winsler, A., Caverly, S. L., Willson-Quayle, A., Carlton, M. P., Howell, C., & Long, G. N. (2002). The social and behavioral ecology of mixed-age and same-age preschool classrooms: A natural experiment. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 23, 305-330.

Yen, S.-C., & Ispa, J. M. (2000). Children's temperament and behavior in Montessori and constructivist early childhood programs. Early Education & Development, 11, 171-186.

Yildirm Doguru, S. S. (2015). Efficacy of Montessori education in attention gathering skill of children. Educational Research and Reviews, 10, 733-738.

Published
2019-05-16