Montessori is mainly compared to Froebel and Piaget. Apart from these Kilpatricks, John Dewey`s follower published a book criticizing Montessori under the name "The Montessori System Examined."
Montessori and Froebel: 18 years after the death of Froebel, Montessori was born. She was impressed by Froebel, although she was not very influenced by his philosophy.
One of them was a doctor and the other was training to be an architect. Both Froebel and Montessori understood the value of self-activity and established activities. Although Montessori used the word soft wax for babies, Froebel also claimed that it was malleable. While Montessori`s term "metamorphosis" was not used, Froebel used the same term, "desire to make people of them before their time." While Montessori talks about critical times, Froebel discusses budding points. They all accept that the child is an adventurer and only ends up interested in stones, flowers, colored artifacts, sticks, and so on. Both saw the importance of self-education as the first principle of education.
The first difference between Kindergarten and Montessori is the teaching unit. In kindergarten, the teaching unit is between 8 and 10 students, while in Montessori it is a single child.
There is a difference in the way teachers operate. The kindergarten teacher at the center is still a normal school teacher, but the Montessori teacher is imaginative and has transformed into a director – directing the inner energies of the child.
The third distinction is that in Montessori children deal with games, in kindergarten children play with materials and often use make-believe. Another discrepancy is that Kindergartens have unnecessary fairy tales and make-believe stories, while Montessori classrooms have true stories (Standing 1998:331-337). Mainly, their belief in imagination and make-believe makes the methods different.
Montessori and Piaget: David Elkind wrote an essay exploring the theories of Montessori and Piaget in 1967 in the Harvard Educational Review (Chattin-McNichols 1991:155). According to him, both Montessori and Piaget had understanding of biology, which was the foundation of their developmental theories. They also concentrated on social growth rather than on individual differences, all of which could recognize and explain the child`s feeling and empathicity. They understood the importance of the environment in development and the role it plays in the production of language, values and so on. Both Piaget and Montessori believed in the repetitive movements of the infant rather than the drudgery. The stage of development of Montessori and Piaget is close. The first phase of the first stage of development is 0 – 3 years in Montessori, while for Piaget it is 0 – 2 years. Many parallels are that they both focused on the unity of body and mind.
Both Piaget and Montessori disapproved of the authoritarian training in conventional schools and the ability in teachers to regulate the mind and will of the infant (Chattin-McNichols 1991:163).
Rheta De Vries examines the difference between Piaget`s and Montessori`s theories.
He says that Montessori presents concepts in a discontinuous way. For example, she doesn`t teach "this car is red," "this pencil is red" instead of saying "this one is red."
Children have to learn by themselves that items are colorful. In comparison, Piaget focuses in the "development on balancing" process (1991:158-159).
William Heard Kilpatrick: William Heard Kilpatrick was a contemporary of Maria Montessori and a successor of John Dewey. His book "The Montessori System Investigated" is a significant critic of the Montessori approach (Kilpatrick 1914). Kilpatrick rejects Montessori`s idea of education as development at the outset. First of all, it`s not the original idea of Montessori, but the idea of Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel. Kilpatrick thinks that such a theory very rarely achieves a positive outcome, and that wrong practice has occurred in the past. After that, Kilpatrick challenges the ideology of independence. It challenges the excessive individual liberty of Montessori and does not promote collaboration between students.
Third, Kilpatrick feels that there is not enough opportunity for self-expression in Montessori.
Kilpatrick openly shares his sympathy for the illusion of self-education. He argues that self-correction practices such as cylinder blocks were dangerous than help. He approves the Practice of Life activities as it helps poor children to learn to be clean. As for sense training Kilpatrick states, it is pointless to invest in costly materials that could be made usable for less costly playthings. In teaching reading, Kilpatrick does not find any novelty. While he acknowledges Montessori`s contribution to writing, he questions the sum of his contribution to English. He also approves of the way Arithmetic presented, but criticizes the 3Rs that had not been presented before six years. Finally, Kilpatrick (1914) states that "her (Montessori`s) greatest contribution is probably the emphasis on the scientific conception of education and on the practical use of liberty" (Kilpatrick 1914). Although Kilpatrick is trying to notice positive points in Montessori, he is unable to give objective feedback. Either he has no knowledge of teaching young children, or he`s carried away with his love for John Dewey.
Montessori Movement in India In 1922, when Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy, he found Montessori Schools an advantage for the nation and asked Maria Montessori to follow Nazi norms.
Montessori, the strong lady she was, left for Spain. The loss of Montessori led to the closing of all Montessori schools in Italy. Very soon Spain was engulfed in the Spanish Civil War, and then evacuated to the Netherlands. There was a threat of another war around that time in the Netherlands when an invitation to travel to India was received (Indian Montessori Foundation, nd: Introduction).
The second inning of Maria Montessori`s life began in India. It is here that Montessori developed her ideas and published her book "The Absorbent Mind" and expanded her philosophy to children between 6 and 12 years of age. The first Indian Montessori Training Course was held in Adyar near Madras (Chennai) in 1939. In 1946, Montessori returned to Europe to study in London and Scotland. She revisited Madras in 1947, under the pretext of beginning the Montessori University, which did not materialize due to the partition between India and Pakistan. After that, Maria Montessori made several visits to India until 1949 and also conducted a course in Karachi. Maria Montessori was the last to breathe in 1952 (Indian Montessori Foundation nd:5-46).
After Montessori`s departure, Joosten became Director of the Indian Montessori Training Courses in 1952 and kept several courses (Indian Montessori Training Courses 2014). Joosten died in 1980, in the middle of the 45th Hyderabad course, which Swamy took as director until he retired in 1990 when MeenakshiShivaramakrishnan took over as director (Indian Montessori Training Courses 2014; (Indian Montessori Foundation nd: 47-51).
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The year 1995 was a significant one in the Montessori movement. It is when Meenakshi Shivarama krishnan invited Rajendra Gupta to attend the Primary Training Course (6-12 years old) in India. Subsequently, another Montessori center, known as the Indian Montessori Association, was established in Bangalore. Meenakshi Shivarama krishnan, meanwhile, has agreed to discontinue its affiliation with the Montessori International Association (AMI), the original body set up by Maria Montessori. However, ZarinMalva retained her affiliation with AMI and continued training in Mumbai. Madras didn`t have a training center there. Either Zarin Malva or Meenakshi Shivarama krishnan used to take temporary training courses in Madras. In the meantime, Rukmini Ramachandran from Chennai and Lakshmi from Hyderabad underwent a training specially designed for directors. AMI training courses in Chennai and Hyderabad were also started.
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