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AMI Journal

AMI Journal 2001/1

Secretarial Report for 2000, AMI
Centro Studi Casa Natale Maria Montessori, AMI

The name of the town Chiaravalle will most probably have a familiar ring for many Montessorians: it is a town whose history goes back to the 7th century A.D. Construction of its Abbey Santa Maria in Castagnola was started in 1172. Situated on the Adriatic coast, with the town centre only six kilometres away from the sea, it has a population of some 14,000 inhabitants. Small, yet with a long history; perhaps unassuming, yet the home of Maria Montessori's first years. It is where her parents married and she was born.

The very house were she was born has for many years been identified as such. Now, Chiaravalle has expanded its recognition of the merits of one of its most prominent citizens ever. The 'casa natale' has been turned into a Montessori study centre and museum. 16 November, 2000 saw the official opening and inauguration of the museum. Special guest of the Mayor and authorities of Chiaravalle was Carolina Montessori, great-granddaughter of Maria Montessori. Together with the Mayor, Alessandro Bianchini, she unveiled the plaque of the new museum.

So, if ever you find yourself in the province of Ancona in the neighbourhood of Chiaravalle, by accident, or on purpose making a little Montessori pilgrimage, do visit the Casa Natale. It should be a most interesting stopover along the Montessori route.

Question and Answer: Cuboid or Prism, AMI

This time the Question and Answer section deals with the question when and how to use the term cuboid or Prism, with reference to the Sensorial Material.

The article first gives the explanation given by Mario Montessori in 1977 and is expanded by Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins.

"...Each 'step' of the broad stair, as well as each rod of the long stair, can be called a: geometric solid; polyhedron, hexahedron; (special) prism; (special) parallelepiped; (special) cuboid. All of these terms are correct and exact; the only difference is that some are more general and others more specific. We can always choose one or another according to the context; in other words, which one is more appropriate in the present context?"

Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 2000/4

Transitions, AMI
Maria Montessori and Algebra: the Binomial Theorem, Camillo Grazzini

In 'Maria Montessori and Algebra - The Binomial Theorem' Camillo Grazzini first offers the reader some information on Montessori's mathematical background before expanding the topic. His thorough and lucid article is supported by detailed drawings illustrating the specialist theory, making it accessible and enjoyable to a more general readership. The topic is introduced by the following quotation of Maria Montessori:

"A boy of eight years who had entered my room in search of his younger brother of three, appeared to grasp with ease and enthusiasm the working of the binomial cube which I was, at that moment, endeavouring to explain, in vain, to the student-teachers of the Montessori Training College in Rome. (...) He came eagerly to the table and took some of the pieces. 'Leave them', I told him, 'you cannot understand these things; they are too difficult even for these ladies.' 'Oh, but I do understand', he answered."

Lecture XI, Karachi, 1946, Maria Montessori

In her lecture on language delivered in Karachi in 1946 Dr. Montessori elaborates on the Sensitivities of Language and stresses that 'language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilisation'.

Dr. Montessori touches upon many elements, including nature versus nurture, involved in the development of language. One of the major points argued is that 'the child builds upon his faculties according to a plan pre-established by nature'.

Impressions of 'Freedom and Responsibility - A Glorious Counterpoint', AMI-USA National Conference 20-23 July, 2000, Sue Pritzker
Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI
Question & Answer: The Zero, AMI

Zero means nothing; it is the number corresponding to the metaphysical nothing or naught. How do we then envisage nothing? Children sometimes see zero as an 'amusing curiosity', for what is its use in addition, subtraction, division or multiplication? 'Zero represents the starting point from not being to existing, from 0 to 1. ' In this Q&A section some of the aspects of zero are explained and highlighted.

Montessori in Romania, 2000-2001, Rita Schaefer Zener

From 1997 to 1999 Rita Schaefer Zener ran an AMI training course in Romania at the primary level. She recaps on some of the initial experiences and outlines the current developments, focusing on cooperation with the authorities and how some of the students she trained have fared at the schools where they are employed. Rita Zener plans to return to Romania in 2001 to offer support and liaise with 'her' ex-students.

'Education as an Aid to Life' 24th International Montessori Congress July 2-4, 2000, Paris, France, AMI
Meeting of the Directors of Training and Trainers Ambleside, England: August 19-25, AMI

From August 19 - 25, 2000 the AMI Directors of Training and Trainers gathered for what has become a four-yearly tradition: a meeting providing a platform for discussion of pertinent issues, lectures, talks and deepening of Montessori pedagogy. Some reflections, suggestions and thoughts from a cross-section of the trainers capture the mood of the moment. 'The five days were divided into a mixture of pedagogical presentations and theoretical discussions regarding both the form and the functions of AMI and its training centres.' 'In between sessions, we walked, picked blackberries, toured, was a perfect environment in which to open our hearts to the future of AMI.' 'The experienced trainers were very kind to share their knowledge and gave suitable guidance.'

Reflections on the Training of Trainers' Programme, Ann Dunne
International Year for the Culture of Peace Manifesto 2000, AMI
Announcements, AMI
Membership Fees, AMI

AMI Journal 2000/2-3

Farewell to Bob Portielje, AMI

Some of the words spoken by Bob Portielje on retiring from the 'job' as AMI's President

"...I am grateful for the opportunity to say 'off the record' a few words to everybody from the AMI community, who allowed me, an outsider in the field of education, to hold this prestigious post. It goes without saying that this gratitude is matched by my indebtedness to Djoeke, without whose help I couldn't have done the job. But I would particularly like to thank all of you (...) for your understanding and, above all, your loyal and warm friendship.

May AMI flourish under the more than capable new president, Renilde, the general secretary, Mary and chair of the Executive Committee, Hilla: they will continue to guarantee the high standards for which the Association stands.

....Thank you, AMI. I fell in love with this 'job' and wouldn't have missed one minute of it."

Upon being made an honorary member of the association Bob Portielje said "I am more than grateful for the honour conferred on me by the AMI Board".

Some of the words of appreciation spoken on that occasion:

We celebrate almost a 'life-time' of Montessori: Bob's commitment and interest in Montessori as a parent led to over forty years of active Montessori involvement.

Thank you for your continued and unflinching support throughout all the years.

Bob, you were a binding factor, the cement which helped build and consolidate today's structure of AMI.

We are fortunate to have Bob always available for consultation, sensible advice and his friendship.

It's not's au-revoir.

Science and the Montessori Casa dei Bambini, Annette M.Haines

From Science and the Montessori Casa dei Bambini, an article by Annette M. Haines Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis, Missouri.

This article was first delivered as a lecture to the North American AMI Trainers' Council held in Tempe, Arizona in November, 1999.

The article's introduction by Renilde Montessori also serves to spark off discussion of the subject.

(From the introduction)

...Neither shall we know whether children in Montessori schools will be more or less scientifically inclined if in the Casa dei Bambini they are presented with science exercises or not. To have, or not to have science in the three-to-six classroom is a quietly enduring tug o' war between two factions in our very own AMI pedagogical community. We do not bandy neither do we hurl. We are civilised, we endeavour to uphold the principles of grace and courtesy which presumably are second nature to us, yet we tenaciously clamp our jaw around our well-founded convictions on the subject, sinking a powerful fang into a rationale made from solid bone.

Annette Haines offers a superbly lucid, well-illustrated exposé of pedagogical reasons for not having science exercises in the Children's House. We would like to invite defenders of the other faith to come forward with an equally eloquent avowal of their conviction that simple science experiments have a place in a prepared environment for children from three to six years of age.

(From Annette Haines' article)

In order to talk about science in the environment we prepare for the 3&endash;6 year-old, we must first ask, "What is science?" Science is a method of inquiry, a mode of investigation which makes a systematic attempt at creating knowledge.

(...) Scientific progress can be seen as the exploration of error. Most scientific hypotheses or theories are wrong: the scientific community sees that wrong ones don't get published. Right ones are made with "the tears and sweat (at any rate, with a good deal of bad language) by people who are constantly getting the wrong answer" (1978, p.111).

Science is done by the scientific method. You probably remember learning about the scientific method in school: formulate a hypothesis; construct a straw man (a null hypothesis); and design an experiment to see if the empirical evidence is enough to reject the null hypothesis with a certain level of probability that your results are not the result of chance variation. It is a powerful tool, but it cannot prove anything; it can only disprove. Science thus requires a certain attitude of scepticism (Shaughnessy & Zechmeister,1990, p. 21). No truth is so sacred that it cannot be tested.

(...) Scientific experiments are usually done in a laboratory where the variables can be controlled. The researcher lets the one variable he wishes to examine be a free or independent variable. Maria Montessori described her method as "scientific pedagogy". In the laboratory of the prepared environment, all the variables are controlled except one: the child. The child is the independent variable. Behaviour is recorded through narrative records and checklists documenting the frequency of specific behaviours, the duration of the behaviour, and so forth. It is essential to give the children freedom because only when the children are free, can we clearly see their individual differences.

Report on Annual General Meeting, AMI
Financial Report - 1999, AMI
A Pictorial Impression of the April Meetings, AMI
Report on the Activities of the MM 75 Fund in 1999, AMI
General Report on AMI Training Centres, AMI
Other Reports, AMI
Centro Internazionale Maria Montessori, Perugia, Italy Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary, Sara Concas Spoleti

Centro Internazionale Maria Montessori - Perugia, Italy Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

In July, 2000 The Centro Internazionale, Perugia celebrated its 50th anniversary - fifty years of intense work begun by Maria Montessori and continued by Maria Antonietta Paolini for many years. Since 1950, thirty-four international courses have been held with the participation of foreign students from five continents as well as Italian students; eleven national Children's House and Elementary School courses for Italian teachers and advanced courses for teachers trained by Mario Montessori in 1956 and 1958 and by Maria Antonietta Paolini in 1960. In all, the Centro has prepared a total of 3,676 teachers.

Numerous seminars have been held at the Centro dealing with various topics related to children's psychosomatic development. Some of the many congresses and gatherings held are:

1970 - the Congress on the Centenary of Maria Montessori's Birth

1985 - the Conference on 'Teaching History' [L'insegnamento della storia nella scuola dell'obbligo]

1992 - the Conference on 'Education for Work in the Consumer Society: Thoughts on the Pedagogical Imperatives'

1998 - the Conference entitled 'The Pursuit of Construct the Science of Peace', commemorating the centenary of Mario Montessori's birth


Question and Answer: Is the Montessori Method not Outdated?, AMI

Questions fall like seeds upon the mind. Some blow away, some enrich the soil of thought, a rare few germinate and grow, invigorating the spirit and the intellect.

Question: After sifting through the many questions posed at parents' evenings, one remains: Is the Montessori method not outdated?

Answer: The Montessori method is undated. It is not subject to any one time, to any one space.

Life as a phenomenon is being intensely investigated on all levels of science. Many of the orthodox disciplines have evolved to become "life sciences"; biochemistry, bio-physics, biology as an intrinsic part of psychology, etc. Maria Montessori was a pioneer of the "bio" sciences. Today she would no doubt be known as a bio-pedagogue. She herself called her method "an aid to life".

(...)Another aspect of the Montessori method, the aspect that is best known and in many cases the only one that is known, is the vast range of autodidactic materials Maria Montessori developed. Those for the very young child were created mostly in the first half of this century; it is not surprising that people wonder whether they are perhaps outdated, particularly since great quantities of excellent teaching aids have been designed in recent decades.

But there is a difference between these materials, and the names chosen to denote them express this difference admirably: "teaching aids" vs. "autodidactic materials". Teaching aids help teachers convey to the children what adults or a group of adults feel should be conveyed to them. Autodidactic materials are tools that help the young child teach himself the arts required to become a member of his group, following the dictates of inner laws.

Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 2000/1

A Message from Renilde Montessori, Renilde Montessori
What Kept Me in AMI, Bob Portielje

A sneaking feeling of an inevitable 'divorce' has come over me; after about forty years of an ever-growing involvement in the Montessori movement, first locally and nationally, which was soon to become internationally, now has come the time for goodbyes. Quite disturbing, believe me! It is an odd thought to realise that this coming September an unforgettable and fascinating part of my life will end. For nearly half my lifetime it has been my privilege to meet so many exceptional and outstanding people from all over the world, many of whom have become personal friends of Djoeke and myself. I emphatically include my 'Mrs. President': without her continued support, assistance and participation the relationship AMI-Bob Portielje would have been utterly impossible.

What kept me in Montessori all these years? Briefly it is, I believe, a mixture of loyalty, love and the feeling of a Montessori parent who wished to do something in return, grateful for Montessori education .

From my letter in Communications 4, 1999 it is crystal clear that my faith in AMI's future is utterly justified, with Renilde Montessori as President, Hilla Patell as Chair of the Executive Committee and Mary Hayes as General Secretary.

Contrasting Land and Water Forms The Method in Practice, Camillo Grazzini

The article, which includes revised and refined definitions for the Land and Water Forms as approved by the AMI Pedagogical Committee, offers clear and concise information on the appropriate materials. It has many useful suggestions as to classroom activities and has an extremely well-documented note section. The article is relevant to both the primary and the elementary levels and is well worth reading.

Annual General Meeting of the Association Montessori Internationale Agenda and Venue, AMI
Nominations for the AMI Board, AMI
Secretarial Report for 1999, AMI
International Year for the Culture of Peace A Letter to Members, AMI

This year has been proclaimed the International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP) by the United Nations. Manifesto 2000 is an appeal for individual commitment that was drafted by a group of Laureates of the Nobel Prize for Peace. The aim is to collect and present one hundred million signatures to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2000. This is to be achieved with the help of all identified partners, which includes AMI.

Through the website address below, you can add your electronic signature and thus contribute to AMI's partnership in this operation.

Obituary: M.A. Paolini A Life Devoted to Montessori, AMI
Moral Development, Peter Gebhardt-Seele

Dr. Peter Gebhardt-Seele earned a Ph.D. from the Erlangen-Nürnberg University and a high school teacher's certificate in Bavaria, Germany. He holds an AMI special education diploma from Aktion Sonnenschein, Munich and an AMI elementary diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute, Washington D.C. He has followed the AMI Training of Trainers Programme and presently directs the AMI elementary summer course at MIA &emdash; the Montessori Internationales Ausbildungszentrum, Munich, Bavaria (Germany). His book The Computer and the Child, a Montessori Approach has been published by the Computer Science Press, Rockville, Maryland. We quote from the preface of Dr. Gebhardt-Seele's article on 'Moral Development'...

"The moral issue touches on the deepest philosophical issues. It cannot be treated fully in a text of this size but I hope that this analysis will clarify the fundamental issue. I will discuss three areas:

The knowledge of what is good.
The will to choose what is good.
The freedom to act upon that will."

The Four Planes of Education (an extract), Maria Montessori
23rd International Montessori Congress, Cancún, Elisabeth Houweling
The Mind and the Hand, Silvia Carbone-Singh

Mrs. Silvia Carbone-Singh holds the AMI diplomas for the Assistant to Infancy and Primary levels. She has taken courses at Bank Street School of Education and New York University towards an Early Childhood Certificate. At the National University (UNAM), Mexico she completed a course, Exploring the Brain, for children with special needs. She became an AMI trainer for the Assistants to Infancy level in 1993. Since 1995, she is the Director of Training at the Instituto Montessori de México A.C.

In her article 'The Mind and the Hand' Mrs. Carbone-Singh discusses the close relationship between language, thought, mind, and intelligence. As she points out, 'Montessori herself, when talking of the hand (Absorbent Mind, Chapters 14, 15) always united hand and word, hand and language.' (...)

..."If the hand therefore thinks, if the hand has been able to build, to create music, painting, science, then how should the child educate his hands? The child is not born with a special ability, he has to learn and develop. During the first year, the child's brain is building its structures and function step by step following the maturation of the nervous system. Only when a certain maturation in the nervous system has occurred, can the child move his hands and his thumb in opposition to the index finger. When the hand of the child is able to move intentionally then its education begins. The child uses his hand in the environment to imitate the movement of the adult.

Maria Montessori also talks about the child's tendency to imitate. She says that this imitation is not passive because the child first internalises the movement he sees, then processes it and finally expresses it in his own movement." ...

Question and Answer: Transition from Casa to Elementary, AMI

This issues' Question and Answer section on Transition from Casa to Elementary offers some insights and invites further dialogue with the readership.

International Centre for Montessori Studies Foundation Forty Years of History, Camillo Grazzini
Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 1999/4

First Assembly of Educateurs sans Frontières July-August, 1999, AMI

From 'Impressions Educateurs sans Frontières'

"When Montessori principles are applied in the wider context of society, their possibilities are vast and all-encompassing. They can be of incalculable help to parents, social workers, child-care workers, family counsellors, in short, to any person involved with the developing human being; they can be and have been applied with children undergoing lengthy hospitalisation, maladjusted children, physically impaired children, children victims of violence, children abandoned, and children at risk."
Renilde Montessori, 1998

This issue of Communications features a special section dedicated to Educateurs sans Frontières. The contents are as follows:

Educateurs sans Frontières 1999, Renilde Montessori
A Pictorial Focus on AMI's Historical Links with the Villa Montesca
Official Opening
The Programme
Spotlight on the Speakers
Reflections on the First Assembly, Muriel W. Adcock
The Participants
Educateurs sans Frontières 'at work'
Chief Seattle's 1854 Speech
Educateurs sans Frontières 'at play'
Pictures from the Farewell Evening
Farewell Evening

The Century of the Child, AMI
70 Years of AMI, AMI

From '70 Years of AMI' - (article giving historical background information on the 'birth' of AMI in 1929)

"By 1929 Dr. Montessori had gained so much international fame that she had to travel incognito to Denmark and the interest in her findings had called for a separate Montessori course within the structure of the Conference of the New Education Fellowship. While the list of speakers was formidable and featured many names of well-known experts in the fields of education, philosophy and psychology from all corners of the world, three names were given extra prominence in the programme. One of these was Dr. Montessori's, together with those of Tagore, Indian poet, philosopher, musician, writer, educator, Nobel laureate (1861-1941) and children's art innovator Professor Franz Cizek from Austria, who had rallied a great following in the Anglo-Saxon world. Other speakers included Dr. Ferrière, Dr. Elisabeth Rotten and Professor Jean Piaget.

Dr. Montessori gave no less than five public lectures. They were: 'The Adult and the Child', 'The Teacher's Task', 'The Child's Environment', 'Geometry' and 'Psychological Principles in Education'.

Other lectures on the Montessori Method were given by Mr. Claude Claremont, Mrs. R. Joosten-Chotzen, Mrs. M. Marstrand, Miss L. Roubiczek and Miss C.W. Tromp."

A Birthday Celebration in Denmark, Renilde Montessori

From 'A Birthday Celebration In Denmark': Renilde Montessori reporting on a special function organised by the Danish Montessori Institute, dedicated its annual workshop held in Elsinore to the commemoration of the foundation of AMI ,70 years ago.

"On Sunday October 31, a tour of Kronborg Castle and a 'Danish Lunch' rounded off the historic event. In 1929, Kronborg Castle was home to the Fifth International Conference of the New Education Fellowship and the first International Montessori Congress. It was moving to stand in the immense ballroom (62 x 11m) and realise that Maria Montessori spoke there on the eve of the foundation of AMI, the organisation that was to carry on her work."

The Child's Environment, Maria Montessori

'The Child's Environment' lecture delivered by Maria Montessori in 1929 at the Vth International Conference of the New Education Fellowship in 1929 - the time and place when the Association Montessori Internationale was conceived.

"In a modern city one might exclaim: "But where are the children?" The schools are larger than the houses. They are like hospitals or prisons."

Changes to the Board, AMI