AMI Talks – The Educational Value of Silence

For the second edition of our 2022-2023 season, we were joined by Professor Pieter Verstraete, professor of history of education, and AMI trainer Uma Ramani, who spoke on the theme of silence, highlighting how silence in education can be both an instrument and an outcome of the practice of education as an aid to life. 

Silence in Montessori education is most special, and many will relate immediately to this passage from The Secret of Childhood where Maria Montessori describes the origins of the silence exercise: (in response to a baby being brought into the classroom) “At once the children sat still, controlling even their breathing, and so they remained, with the serene, intense look of those engaged in meditation. Little by little in that impressive silence little noises were heard, a drop of water falling in the distance, the far-off twitter of a bird. This incident was the origin of the silence exercise.”
What is silence? Is it the absence of sound? Is it reflection? Is it tranquillity? Is it a means to suppress voices? Many questions come to mind. Listen to the recordings of this talk to refresh your appreciation of silence in Montessori education.


Uma Ramani, born and educated in India, she completed her AMI 3-6 training (1980, XLIV Indian Montessori Training Courses) with Mr A.M. Joosten and Mr S.R. Swamy, who were both trained by Maria Montessori. Uma also holds the AMI 6-12 Diploma (2012) from the Montessori Training Center of New England and has been an AMI trainer at the 3-6 level since 2010. She is Director of Training (3-6) at the Montessori Institute of North Texas (MINT), Dallas, Texas, since 2014. Uma is deeply interested in the study of Maria Montessori’s writings and enjoys exploring the continued relevance of Montessori philosophy and practice in the modern-day context, in diverse settings.  She looks forward to speaking on the Montessori perspective on Silence and its place in Education.
Pieter Verstraete is a professor of history of education at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is president of the Belgian-Dutch Association for the History of Education and Curator of the Louvain Disability Filmfestival. In his most recent book Silence in the Classroom, he explores the history of western pedagogical approaches to silence in schools (Leuven University Press).