I married into a family that is incredibly steeped in Maria Montessori's methods and teachings to the point where my mother-in-law has taken extensive trainings and is considered one of the more highly trained Montessorians. For short, these are not the people who send their kids to pop up "Montessori" schools next to a super market. Rather, they are the kind who can quote "The Absorbent Mind" and who bring the philosophy into every aspect of parenting.

I am a scholarly person and am looking for some books, articles, documentation that discuss the heart of the Montessorian philosophy (both for and against), not just one or two aspects of modern classrooms. Do such publications exist?

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    Interesting question... I didn't find much... Which is funny as I attended a Montessori school... But there is some research suggesting no big difference in academic results (dx.doi.org/10.1080/02568540509594546). Personally, I find most troubling that the founder of the method put her own son in foster care (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Montessori). – Joe_74 Oct 2 '17 at 16:10
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    Thanks! Yes, I have found many stats and objections like that, but I would like to hear an education philosopher talk about why these concepts are inherently 'bad' (e.g. you should not give your toddler that much freedom in a classroom because..). Maybe no such discussion exists which would perhaps be to the credit of the method! – J. Tate Oct 2 '17 at 16:13
  • Any such constructive discussion would be welcome. Indeed, a key issue with the analysis of the core principles of the Montessori method is that almost all schools globally follow them, at least loosely. – Joe_74 Oct 2 '17 at 16:15
  • Can you elaborate on what you mean by all schools following them loosely? – J. Tate Oct 2 '17 at 16:17
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    @Joe_74 A more complete account of what happened with her son is at the French wikipedia: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Montessori "As a child out of wedlock, Maria's pregnancy is kept secret, and she gives birth abroad, then places her son on a farm. She visits him once a week. She gets him back when he is twelve, when his own mother dies." (I assume there's a mistranslation and that alludes to his foster mother dying). He goes on to help with her work so they appear to have had a decent relationship. Not saying you're wrong, you just got me curious so I looked into it a little more. – JackArbiter Oct 2 '17 at 21:26
up vote 8 down vote accepted

This answer addresses your question about scholarship, not the question in your title.

Yes, there is quite a bit of scholarship on the effects and effectiveness of the Montessori method. You can find a lot of it freely available; see, for example, this Google Scholar search. (Use the links in the far right column for non-paywalled full text where available. Use the "cited by" link below individual works to see more recent scholarship that references that article/book.)

A few representative recent articles from the first couple of pages of results and their citing articles:

Ansari, Arya, and Adam Winsler. 2014. "Montessori Public School Pre-K Programs and the School Readiness of Low-Income Black and Latino Children". Journal of Educational Psychology. 106 (4): 1066-1079.

Dohrmann, Kathryn Rindskopf, Tracy K. Nishida, Alan Gartner, Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky, and Kevin J. Grimm. 2007. "High School Outcomes for Students in a Public Montessori Program". Journal of Research in Childhood Education. 22 (2): 205-217. (PDF)

Kayili, Gokhan, and Ramazan Ari. 2011. "Examination of the Effects of the Montessori Method on Preschool Children's Readiness to Primary Education". Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice. 11 (4): 2104-2109. (PDF)

Lillard, Angeline S. 2012. "Preschool children's development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs". Journal of School Psychology. 50 (3): 379-401. Downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Angeline_Lillard/publication/225096431_Preschool_children%27s_development_in_classic_Montessori_supplemented_Montessori_and_conventional_programs/links/02e7e51c1e7bc17ba8000000.pdf (PDF)

The main "objection" I gleaned from a quick scan of the abstracts of the above is that the benefits of Montessori preschool may not be as robust for low-income African American children as for other children. I imagine there are other criticisms to be found in the wider research, but, in keeping with the principle of autoeducation, I will let you explore for yourself.

You can also have a look at the nearly-2,000 works that cite Maria Montessori's original book, the Montessori Method, here. (Use the "Search within citing articles" checkbox to easily search within these results.)

Anecdotally, my brothers and I all attended a Montessori school for preschool–3rd grade back in the 1970s–1980s; it worked well for some of us, less so for others.

  • The fourth reference link appears to be broken. – mkennedy Oct 4 '17 at 16:05
  • Thanks for letting me know, @mkennedy. I don't know why the embedded link won't work; the address/link itself appears to be fine. For now I've just included the full text of the link, which seems to work; if anyone knows how to fix the embedding problem I would be grateful. – 1006a Oct 4 '17 at 16:45

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