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Montessori: The Science behind the Genius

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Montessori: The Science behind the Genius.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Angeline Stoll Lillard(Author),An Vu(Photographer),Renilde Montessori(Foreword)

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Traditional schooling is in constant crisis because it is based on two poor models for children's learning: the school as a factory and the child as a blank slate. School reforms repeatedly fail by not learning from the shortcomings of these models. One hundred years ago, Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy, devised a very different method of educating children, based on her observations of how they naturally learn. Does Montessori education provide a viable alternative to traditional schooling? Do Dr Montessori's theories and practices stand up to the scrutiny of modern-day developmental psychology? Can developmental pscyhology tell us anything about how and why Montessori methods work? In Montessori, now with a foreword by Renilde Montessori, Angeline Stoll Lillard shows that science has finally caught up with Maria Montessori. Lillard presents the research supporting eight insights that are foundational to Montessori education and describes how each is applied in the Montessori classroom. In reading this book, parents and teachers alike will develop a clear understanding of what happens in a Montessori classroom and, more importantly, why it happens and why it works. Lillard, however, does much more than explain the scientific basis for Montessori's system: amid the clamour for evidence-based education, she presents the studies that show how children learn best, makes clear why many traditional practices come up short, and describes an ingenious alternative that works. Everyone interested in education, at all levels and in all forms, will take from this book a wealth of insights. Montessori is indispensable reading for anyone interested in what psychologists know about human learning and development, and how to use it to improve teaching effectiveness.

"A stimulating evaluation of Montessori philosophy and practice, exploring some of the basic principles in relation to modern scientific research. . . . In particular, anyone wanting to take a detailed and critical look at Montessori education would surely benefit from reading this book."-- Montessori International Angelina Stoll Lillard is an Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia.

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  • By -M-Martin- on November 29, 2007

    I was familiar with the basics of Montessori education before I read "Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius". I have been drawn to it ever since I first heard about it because it feels more natural and right than traditional public school. I read this book in an effort to understand the system better and to be able to defend my choice to well-meaning but critical friends and family. I was not disappointed.Lillard first compares traditional education with the Montessori system, pointing out how each came to be and how they have evolved over time. She then looks at what she considers to be the eight principles of Montessori education. Each is explained in depth, compared in depth with traditional education, and then research is provided in support of each principle. In her research, Lillard discovered that none of Montessori's central points have been disproven, many have been proven, and several are in need of further research.Pros: This book cites many, many scientific studies. It is well-written and easy to understand. There are many examples (and pictures) of specific materials used in Montessori education. It provides a solid explanation of many of the important principles of Montessori education.Cons: The book is a little wordy and uses too many previews, summaries, and reviews for my taste. The last chapter contains a section called "Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns about Montessori" that I wish was longer and more in depth.What I would really like to find is a debate between pro- and anti- Montessori educators. While I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it, I came away thinking that Lillard's assessment was too good to be true. If Montessori education is really as wonderful as she (and I) think it is, why is it not more popular?

  • By Rev. Charles Williams on November 18, 2006

    I recommend this book to anyone interested in 'Montessori' education with three caveats (this is the bad stuff, the rest is good):1. The author is certainly partisan and in favour of AMI. There are other interpretations of 'Montessori' (e.g. AMS, IMS) out there that should have received equal coverage in the text, but they didn't because the author is an acolyte of AMI. 'Montessori' is a somewhat contested term (i.e. not 'trademarked'), and this book could have offered a more catholic representation of the Church of Montessori. Consequently, it's certainly nowhere near being the 'last word' on what constitutes the method or the movement.2. The research literature is sometimes dealt with in a somewhat Procrustean manner. Read the references carefully and do your own reading to ensure that you agree with the conclusions that have been reached. I realise that the selective quoting and interpretation of peer reviewed articles is part of the game when it comes to writing a book like this. However, when this reader chases up articles and finds that they don't quite say what the author claims that they do, one starts to question the objectivity of this appraisal of Montessori's 'genius' .3. Whether or not the fundamentals (which seem to lie in Theosophy) of 'Montessori' education are even a matter for "science" is open to question. In any case, the materials in a Montessori classroom are often treated as the sacrements of the faith, rather than experimental equipment. A large number of the 'Montessori' method's practices are as yet 'not proven' by psychological science. So be prepared to read, "whether this is true has yet to be determined by empirical research' more than a few times. Even if scientists don't argue over exactly what constitutes science, philosophers of science do, it may be that the concept of science has moved on from Maria Montessori's time, and that the claims to 'scientific pedagogy' are anachronistic.As the title suggests this work has hagiographic tendencies, yet on the whole it is mandatory reading for anyone interested in learning about 'Montessori'. For an evenhanded historical perspective of the woman, the method and the movement (and their problematic inseparability) I'd recommend Rita Kramer's biography.As an introduction to Montessori's own writings, her "Handbook" is refreshingly concise (whatever you do, steer clear of her hazy, ghost-written, money-making-lecture-compilations).If this all sounds too difficult, why not support the Montessorian dynastic principle (cf. Mario Montessori) and pick up A. Lillard's mum's book "Montessori Today" instead?edits for readability


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