The Montessori Mission: A Review of Charlotte Awdry’s Project of Passion
Although it may not appear at first glance or through the popular, stereotypical images of its settings, Montessori offers a rich history of diversity and inclusion. The Pinterest-perfect materials and the Instagram-worthy “shelfies” in pristine home and classroom environments may lead some to believe that the Montessori approach is unattainable, but that could not be farther from the truth.
Charlotte Awdry, Montessori educator, parenting mentor, and podcast host, has made it her mission to share the “deep and fascinating lived experiences” of 10 Montessorians from communities all around the world as a means to showcase the breadth and depth of this incredible pedagogy and to inspire each and every Montessorian to reflect on their own “Montessori Mission.” What began as a Podcast series inspired by Nic Warner, creator of the Leaders of Men podcast, has provided Awdry the opportunity to interview Montessorians like Jeanne-Marie Paynel, Nusaibah Macadam, Barbara Isaacs, Aziza Osman, Pilar Bewley, and Sid Mohandas. These interviews included topics including the contributors’ lightbulb moments in Montessori, the ways in which Montessori has enriched their lives or the lives of the families they work with, the meaning of Montessori, and their deepest desire for Montessori in the future. Awdry notes, “This wasn’t a book about me or written by me, it was written by them. It’s a celebration of everyone’s uniqueness, everyone’s story, everyone’s lived experience. Montessori is the golden thread that weaves all of the guests together, and hence all of us.”
At the end of each chapter, Awdry has included a section for reflective practice. Her intention is to highlight a few of the questions or issues raised by the guests and to invite the reader to go deeper into self-reflection, or discussions with colleagues and family members. Awdry hopes that these deep moments of introspections will provide opportunities for readers to analyze their thoughts and experiences on a variety of topics, furthering the development and understanding of their personal Montessori Mission.
Like Awdry, each of the guests featured in the book hope to see the true mission and vision of Montessori spread globally and for readers to appreciate the ties that bind Montessorians, no matter their place in the world:
Jeanne-Marie Paynel puts it simply, stating, “I sincerely hope The Montessori Mission by Charlotte Awdry brings awareness to the diversity that exists in the Montessori community.”
Barbara Isaacs elaborates on this notion of diversity, sharing, “Our countries and cultures may be different but we are all part of the big global network which serves the vision of the child as a unique, curious, and creative human being, who, as part of the global community, holds the power to change the world… The important message of our interdependence often gets lost in our daily work, yet this should be at the heart of all we do as Montessorians.”
Aziza Osman hopes readers “will feel connected to each person in the chapters and…feel welcomed by a global community of supporters on their journey,” and inspired to share their experiences and aspirations.
Sid Mohandas hopes readers will be inspired, revealing, “...rather than being concerned with how the book will impact the future of Montessori, I am more so interested in how it will allow readers to inhabit thick presents. I hope it will invite pause; to attune, to embed, and to transform through practices that foreground justice and care.”
Pilar Bewley professes, “This book has the power to change [one’s] perspective…The Montessorians featured in it come from all walks of life, and apply the principles not just to their work with children, but to their own lives as well. In fact, this could be one of the most profound changes to the perception of Montessori: that it’s not just a method for educating children, but a transformative journey towards a better understanding of oneself and others.”
Like each of her guests, Awdry hopes that readers around the world will continue finding her book, gaining a new perspective in the understanding that everyone has their own individual Montessori Mission that flows together into a collective Montessori Mission, creating a beautiful, diverse community that promotes learning and growth for all. She notes that, “The gift of my book [is] to illustrate how diverse, relevant, and rich Montessori already is. It’s just for us to embed this diverse mindset so that every child and adult sees the mirror reflection of themselves and the window to the outside world.”
In reading her book, Awdry challenges Montessorians all around the world to do this important work. She emphasizes the importance of considering why each Montessorian does the work they do, what legacy they wish to leave, and how their contributions make the world a more peaceful, just, and harmonious place. It is through these initiatives that Montessorians will unite, furthering the dream of honor, nurturance, and interdependence from Maria Montessori herself.
About the Author
Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori coach and consultant, content creator, and educator for adult learners, as well as a moderator and manager for the Montessori at Home (0 – 3 years) Facebook group. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, in-home caregiver, Lower Elementary coordinator, and associate head of school. She also has experience as a school psychologist intern. She is AMS-credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I) and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Contact her at email@example.com.