Montessori in America: A Century of Reform on the Margins Jackie Cossentino Williamsburg Montessori/University of Maryland Keith Whitescarver The College of William & Mary
From European Import to American Export 1907 1960 present
European movement established in Rome, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, India.
Concentration, control by Montessori
American movement takes hold; rapid expansion.
Diffusion, break with Montessori
Primarily a private movement
American version of movement exported to Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe
Renewed attention from public sector
A Quick Chronology - Phase 1
1907 Casa dei Bambini opens in Rome
1911 First McClure’s magazine Article
First American School in Tarrytown
1912 The Montessori Method published in US
1913 Triumphant US Visit
1914 Critic W. H. Kilpatrick, The Montessori System Examined
1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco. MM departs US forever.
The Problem of Translation
The school in Tarrytown
A Quick Chronology -- Phase 2
1952 Maria Montessori dies
Mario Montessori is made General Director of AMI
1953 Nancy Rambusch discovers MM’s writings
Begins correspondence with Mario Montessori
Takes Training in London
1958 Whitby School is founded in Greenwich CT
Montessori appoints Rambusch AMI rep in US
1960 AMS is founded
Washington Montessori Institute organizes. Efforts to bring Margaret Stephenson to US begun and stalled.
Maria Montessori’s Death
Mario & Dr. Montessori, 1951
First meeting between Nancy McCormick Rambusch and Mario Montessori In 1953, Nancy Rambusch met Mario Montessori at a Montessori conference in Paris and discussed the possibility of starting a Montessori type school in the United States. Mario famously replied: Madame, there is no such thing as a Montessori type school; there is only a Montessori school. Nancy McCormick Rambusch, “The American Montessori Experience,” American Montessori Society Bulletin , vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 1-27. The quote is from p. 8.
Nancy McCormick Rambusch Jubilee (1959)
“ Americanizing” Montessori
Diffusion and Integration
“ A major policy of AMS is to integrate Montessori into the country’s institutions; the family and public school. Otherwise, Montessori practices will never survive.
… .. the American Montessori Society has decided to go beyond AMI and try to integrate this special approach to early learning into the American culture -- which of all Twentieth Century cultures is the most interested in THE CHILD as part of its culture.”
AMS Draft Statement, by C. Monson, 1963
Montessori receives national attention NYT 5/16/65
1962 Tensions between Nancy and Mario
Rambusch resigns as AMS President
Number of US Montessori schools doubles - 26
1963 AMI/AMS Split
WMI becomes American arm of AMI
AMS continues to diffuse and promote
1967 First Public Montessori School Opens in Ohio
1968 First AMI Public Montessori Opens in Philadelphia
1970 AMI/USA Established
1977 NCME Established to “unify” movement.
Phase 2 Continued
Integrity and Control
“ I am well aware of the differences between your point of view and that of more experienced Montessorians.
… .As you are aware, the only interest to AMI, and of me personally is to safeguard the integrity of Dr. Montessori’s work.
We do this by appointing either one or more Montessori experts around whom the Pedagogical Committee of the local society is built. This is our only concern.”
Letter from Mario Montessori to Nancy Rambusch, 2/63