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History of Montessori Education

Montessori education dates back to 1907, when Maria Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, in a low-income district of Rome. Her unique philosophy sparked the interest of educators worldwide, and in the following decades Montessori schools opened throughout Europe, in North and South America, and, finally, on every continent but Antarctica.

Countless books and articles about Montessori have been published in nearly every language.  Dr. Montessori first described her approach in Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini, published in 1909.  The book’s English-language version, succinctly titled The Montessori Method, was a ringing success on both sides of the Atlantic. 

In 1929 Dr. Montessori established the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to support the swell of Montessori schools, teacher education programs, and national organizations around the world.

In the United States, Montessori caught on quickly, propelled by prominent advocates and glowing media reports. But by the 1920s the movement had fizzled, and 40 years would go by before Montessori schools would return in substantial numbers.

The leader of the American revival was Nancy McCormick Rambusch, a vibrant, persuasive educator intent on bringing about change. In 1960 Dr. Rambusch launched the American Montessori Society, the first—and still the largest—of several modern-era organizations supporting Montessori in America.

Recommended Reading

Association Montessori Internationale. Maria Montessori, 1870-1952: An Anthology.

Kramer, Rita. Maria Montessori: A Biography.

Povell, Phyllis. Montessori Comes to America: The Leadership of Maria Montessori and Nancy McCormick Rambusch.

Rambusch, Nancy McCormick. Learning How to Learn: An American Approach to Montessori.

Standing, E. M. Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work.

Whitescarver, Keith. "Montessori in America: the first 100 years." Montessori International, July - September 2010. Included here with permission of Montessori International.

Whitescarver, Keith. "Montessori in America: the most current revival." Montessori International, October - December 2010. Included here with permission of Montessori International.

Whitescarver, Keith, and Cossentino, Jacqueline. "Montessori and the Mainstream: A Century of Reform on the Margins.” Teachers College Record , December 2008. Included here with permission of Teachers College Record.

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori, 1913

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.

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Early History of Montessori

Maria Montessori's first school

Maria Montessori’s unique approach to education grew from a single preschool to a worldwide movement in the space of 20 years.

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      Montessori People

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