Maria Montessori's post-war lectures inspire a new generation

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Lectures given by Maria Montessori when she visited London in 1946 are the inspiration for the Montessori Schools Association conference on Saturday.

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More than 900 people are expected to attend the annual event at the Institute of Education, with Montessorians from as far afield as Nigeria. Germany and Sweden.

montessoir-london-lecturesThe 1946 London lectures have recently been published with a new translation and index to help readers re-visit important topics of Montessori philosophy.

The lectures were the basis of Maria Montessori's first training course in London on her return from exile in India during the Second World War.

Martin Bradley, chair of the Montessori Schools Association, told Nursery World, that the themes that the founder of the Montessori movement spoke about in her London lectures were still very topical today, setting out ‘a series of ideas and issues we’re still following’.

He added that ‘Her understanding of children’s development, of how children acquire new ideas and concepts came from her medical background.’

Speakers at the conference include two Montessori trainers from the United States, Crystal Dahlmeier from the Montessori Lab School at Xavier University and Dr Paul Epstein from Rochester Montessori School. Their talks will be complemented by talks from colleagues at the Montessori Centre International, by Penny Johns, director of studies, and Jeremy Clarke, distance learning academic leader.

The conference will also be an opportunity to debate current issues of early years policy.

The MSA questions the Government’s push for more two-year-olds in schools.

‘Of course there are some Montessori nurseries in premises on school sites. The problem come if staff are not qualified or experienced enough to work with two-year-olds.’

Mr Bradley said that the MSA is also ‘very wary’ about the development of childminder agencies. Montessori-trained childminders are very concerned’ about whether they would be able to keep their Montessori identities, and whether agencies would understand the educational philosophy.

There are now around 50 childminders that have completed their Montessori training and around a similar number at various stages of applying or studying the course.

The association is providing these childminders with support by setting up two childminding groups in the West Country and the Home Counties.