young girl works with montessori sandpaper letters the history of montessoriThe following contains a response to a NAMC student inquiry concerning becoming more informed about the history and efforts of those supporting Montessori in the United States, and why it is not broadly embraced in public school systems.

The Montessori method was close to being adopted in the US as the model for all public school instruction shortly before the start of WWI. However, in 1914 William Kirkpatrick (a follower of John Dewey’s) wrote a highly critical ‘expose’ on the Montessori method: The Montessori System Examined. In it he argued against Dr. Montessori’s use of scientific observation of children and her ideas of freedom and liberty. He believed the teacher to be the center of the classroom, not the child and argued that the teacher should direct all student activity. He argued for social group work before the child had approached the social second plane of development.

Montessori was for children to learn self-reliance and independence; Kirkpatrick argued the need for conformity through social pressure! He called Montessori schools chaotic and anarchist; traditional schools were models of properly trained, well-behaved children who did exactly what they were told. Montessori schools encouraged divergent thinking; traditional school children, he said, did not question authority.

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