Tag Archives: census

Bettelheim and the Montessori Research Agenda

A piece on the Huffington Post in January, “Doing Pre-Kindergarten Right”, by a (sort of) non-Montessorian, Dr. Ruth Bettelheim, points out that

Preschool children think and function differently than school-age children, which is why primary school typically begins at age 6 or 7 everywhere in the world.

She calls for educational experiences to maximize young children’s potential, going on to say:

This maximization requires different educational methods than those developed for older children. Fortunately, several methods have been developed during the past century to enhance learning for young children. Most prominently, Dr. Montessori developed her method by investigating which approaches could best educate the severely impoverished slum children of early 20th century Rome.

The Montessori Method systematically teaches independent problem solving, starting at age 18 months, using hands-on learning and the native interests of preschoolers. She demonstrated that, given adequate food, regular health checkups, and the right full-day program, virtually all of even the most deprived children could learn to an equal or higher standard than their more privileged, traditionally educated peers.

That sounds good!  She continues,

Other methods, such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Dewey, Abecedarian, and Bank Street, also address the unique needs of this age group. Unfortunately, sufficiently rigorous, longitudinal trials of these approaches have not yet been undertaken to determine which ones best serve the developmental needs of very young children.

Emphasis added.  So, what is necessary for “sufficiently rigorous longitudinal trials”?  How about a broad-based, comprehensive data set covering Montessori schools in the U.S.?  Such as the 2013-2014 USA Montessori Census, 1049 schools and growing, perhaps?  (You see how everything is interconnected…)

Biographical note: Dr. Bettelheim, a pyschotherapist, executive coach, writer, and lecturer, has written about Montessori before: Time For Schools to Stop Damaging Children.  Dr. Bettelheim is also the daughter of now-controversial child psychologist and writer Bruno Bettelheim (1903-1990) and his second wife Gertrude, who was a Montessori teacher in Vienna in the 1930s.  In fact, Gertrude apparently worked at the Montessori school started by Bettelheim with his first wife, Gina Alstadt Bettelheim Weinmann.  (Per The Creation of Doctor B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim and Suicide And the Holocaust)

Credit where due note: The piece came out in January, and I’m not sure how I missed it, but fortunately the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, the Montessori Madmen, Montessori Northwest (the AMI training center in Portland, Oregon), Montessori Partners Serving all Children (a project of the Montessori Center of Minnesota ,  the AMI training center in in St. Paul, Minnesota), and a number of Montessori schools were all over it.

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Montessoricensus.org: 100,000 strong and growing

ImageThis just in from the Montessori Census:

831 schools are now listed, serving over 100,000 students.  Just over half are public schools, which means that about 400 private schools have signed on to the project.  That’s great, but that means there’s still more than 3,000 schools out there if what we’ve been saying is correct.

It’s critical that we get every single school we can represented here.  100,000 is a number that makes people pay attention.  That’s how many people attended the Super Bowl last year. It’s a town the size of Boulder, Colorado. It’s more Facebook fans than the French Winter Olympics team.

But what if everyone got on board?  That could be 400,000 children.  Now we’re talking Minneapolis, Cleveland, or Miami.  Attendance at Woodstock in 1969.  More fans than Ikea.

Something that touches the lives of 400,000 children is a big deal.  For a more serious reference, that’s how many children are in foster care in the U.S.  If people knew—if we knew—that Montessori was about 400,000 children, do you think maybe we could get a little traction?

So get your school, your child’s school, your friends’ children’s schools, to sign up today.  Sign them up yourself!  They can always fill in the information later.  Talk to your state organization, your national organization (AMI-USA, AMS), your professional organizations.  Click on the link (http://www.montessoricensus.org). Let’s take this to the next level.