Montessori arrives in the US.: Maria Montessori traveled to the U.S. in 1912 to share her method, and it was at first well-received, with schools, training programs, and Montessori societies springing up quickly. However, fragmentation, conflicts over legitimacy, and opposition from the educational establishment slowed the spread of Montessori, and it declined quickly after World War I.
Montessori returns: In the 1950s, American educator Nancy McCormack Rambusch became involved in the Montessori world, and in 1959 she was designated by AMI to start schools and found a Montessori society. The American Montessori Society (AMS) was founded later that year as the sole U.S. representative of AMI.
The schism: Over the next four years personal and pedagogical tensions led to a split between AMI and AMS, and in 1963 the organizations went their separate ways. AMI designated Margaret Stephenson as its representative, and she became an influential figure, training a generation of AMI Montessori teachers over the next 30 years. AMS continued to grow an establish schools and training programs as well.
Montessori today: With around 5,000 schools, the U.S. has more Montessori than any other country. However, the movement remains divided, with AMI claiming around 200 Recognized schools, AMS about 1200 member schools, and the remaining 3600 or so unaffiliated. Several smaller Montessori organizations have developed as well (see Montessori Organizations on this site).
- Montessori and the Mainstream: A Century of Reform at the Margins, by Keith Whitescarver and Jaqueline Cossentino, is a thorough historical case study of Montessori in the U.S. published in the journal Teachers College Record and available at the authors’ website.
- Montessori Comes to America, a book by Phyllis Povell, is another useful resource.