'Communications' is the journal of the Association Montessori Internationale. This publication includes articles by Dr Montessori as well as scholarly papers on Montessori and related topics. Currently, two issues are published each year. AMI also produces a newsletter 'The AMI Bulletin' which is published three times a year and features Montessori news and articles from around the world. 'Communications' and the 'Bulletin' are sent to all members of AMI. Click here to become a member of AMI. Please note: AMI membership is open to individuals only.
Remembering and Celebrating Camillo Grazzini
San Remo Lectures: IV
Maria Montessori and UNESCO
Montessori and Moral Development: Part I
The Montessori “Secret”
This year 80 years ago…
Human Construction: The Ultimate Expresssion of Creativity
April in Amsterdam: Photographs
Report of the Annual General Meeting
AMI Board Appointments
Report on the Activities of the MM 75 Fund in 2003
Highlights from Communications 2004/2-3
Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials
This issue of Communications pays tribute to the memory and fine mind of Camillo Grazzini, long-time director of training at the AMI training centre in Bergamo, who died earlier this year. “Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials” beautifully illustrates his deep understanding of Cosmic Education and its implications for the Second Plane Child. This article is based on a paper delivered at the AMI International Study Conference on “The Child, The Family, The Future”, held in Washington, D.C. in July, 1994.
Camillo Grazzini recounts his close collaboration with Mario Montessori concerning work done with children at the elementary level. He describes how Mario Montessori would extensively lecture ‘on the psychology of the elementary age child; on the environment, materials and work of the teacher in relation to the child of six to twelve; [Mario] would also give lectures on the cosmic fables as psychological keys to the exploration of culture. These cosmic fables are:
1 God Who Has No Handsthe story of the creation of the universe, etc. and, therefore, the greatest vision of the whole that can be offered to the child (introducing geography in particular)
2 Story of Lifeboth the appearance or coming of life and the evolutionary succession (introducing biology)
3 Story of the Appearance or Coming of Man(introducing human history)
4 Story of ‘The Ox and the House’which is the story of the alphabet (for language)
5 Story of Numbers or of Counting(for mathematics)
6 Story of ‘The Country/Nation of the Great River’commonly known as ‘The Great River’: the story of the human body (for human physiology and anatomy).’
Mr Grazzini illustrates some of the activities carried out under Mario Montessori’s guidance when study groups ‘prepared materials for each of the subject areas in a different part of the room. These materials were designed to correspond and appeal to the sensitivities and tendencies of a child of the second plane of development: imagination, culture, morality, etc.’
The interdependencies of the various subjects studied were exemplified, and a concrete three-dimensional image of Maria Montessori’s words was created. ‘One of the purposes of education is to relate the studies (or subjects), one with the other, around the Cosmic Centre. For you cannot understand biology without understanding chemistry or physics, and you cannot study life without its environment, which brings us to geography. (…) And every subject is a more detailed description of the one fundamental principle’.
San Remo Lectures: IV
World Unity through the Child, Maria Montessori
This issue sees the conclusion of the series of four San Remo lectures, delivered by Maria Montessori to the 8th International Montessori Congress, August, 1949. The title of the Congress was La Formazione dell'Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale [Man's Formation in World Reconstruction].
In this lecture Montessori acutely identifies the suffering of humanity and its limitations in trusting the child. ‘Our work will most surely be inspired by our reflections with regard to the child; above all, the perception of the child as the constructor of civilisation and progress will imbue us with the faith to follow a new roada road that, we are convinced, leads to the solution of humanity’s gravest problems.
A bewildered humanity has long been searching for harmony, for a point of understanding where hope and the common interest may converge. Humanity has not yet found this point. Many say that to reach an accord we should begin by eliminating all racial and national prejudices. However, is it possible to disregard elements that appear to be essential to our life and that of others? Reconstruction cannot originate from a negative formula which demolishes the essential structures of social organisation that have prevailed in the world until now.’
Maria Montessori and UNESCO
This article by Victoria Barres ties in appropriately with Montessori’s own San Remo lectures. Victoria argues that Montessori in 1950, ‘still energetic despite her eighty years, participated in founding meetings of UNESCO institutions. One task was to create the International Institute of Education to promote international peace through education. Discussions abounded about reconstructing Europe, linked to educating the ‘new man’. Finally Maria Montessori, politely but firmly, told members that for decades many others, including herself, had devoted enormous energy to raising such issues as the links between education, peace and world reconstructionthe very issues under discussion. Yet war continued to be viewed as a response to violence, with little analysis of the consequences of war. War not only weakened the population’s health and welfare but also planted the seeds of future discord.
Maria Montessori insisted that if humanity wished to succeed in establishing solid foundations for world peace, it had to focus on the prevention of war.’
Montessori and Moral DevelopmentPart I
Moral development is a subject that throughout history has been widely discussed, advocated and oft times despaired upon. Today, in our complex society, it continues to be relevant. In his article on “Montessori and Moral Development”, Greg MacDonald takes the reader through the child’s developmental planes, dwelling on the insights and discoveries made by Maria Montessori as well as her practical observations and suggestions for the child and the adult alike.
Greg clearly shows that ‘The Montessori theory of moral development is a component of Maria Montessori's child development theory. (…) throughout the world children seemed to develop according to a pattern that was common to all. The timing of any part of the pattern's appearance in any one child was unpredictable. However, it seemed that children within a particular age range tended to behave in the same manner, manifesting a common pattern of behaviour.
Eventually, Montessori developed from these observations her concept of the “Four Planes of Development”. Children, she stated, appeared to pass through four stages of development. Each lasted for about six years. Each manifested different physical development, different behaviours and different learning powers. 'If these periods be considered separately, the typical mentality of the children in each appears so different that they might almost belong to different individuals.'
Maria Montessori concluded that if we were ‘to best serve children, then we should tailor what we do with them to their plane of development. Their needs were different at each plane’. (…) ‘As she observed children, Montessori also forged a theory of moral development. New manifestations of moral development occurred in each of the four planes of development’.
In the Montessori Secret, Monica Sullivan Smith invites the reader to look at “Montessori” with different eyes and a different mindset. She argues that the basic Montessori philosophy can be beneficial in any environment, taking it out of the traditional classroom and school.
‘The Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods; the Stages of Development and the Human Tendencies; the Child as the Teacher, the Adult as a Guide and Education as an Aid to Life: all are recognised as some of the most basic principles applied in the Montessori prepared environment. When we hear the word “Montessori” most of us think of such things as the pink tower, the perfectly prepared practical life exercises, the ellipse (for walking on the line), and golden bead materials. We are so quick to equate “Montessori” with prepared environment. In reality, Montessori developmental principles are true of every child, at all times, no matter what environment he is in. Dr. Montessori’s own work, which was not confined to a particular space, materials, or to children working only with a trained teacher, should give us inspiration for expanding our horizons.
As Montessori educators, we have not just our ability to prepare our Montessori environments and devote our lives to what we believe to be the best educational approach in the world, but also wonderful “secrets” about children that the general public can apply in their own work with children. It does not take a great deal of effort to help others understand, for example, the manifestations of sensitive periods, or the characteristics of the stages of development. By working with other professionals, those trained in Montessori can help others learn to observe children through “Montessori eyes” and respond to their needs more effectively.’