Book Review: Montessori Comes to America

31 Aug

Every so often, I come across a book I cannot put down. I know, it seems like I constantly read, but the reality is I usually am reading 5 books at the same time. This is one of those few books I picked up and kept reading.
The history of the Montessori Movement in America is quite a unique story. When Maria Montessori first came to America in the early 20th Century, she was met with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for her method. Shortly after, she was barely heard of in America. In her book, Povell gives us the history of the early Montessori movement, where it failed, and provides us with a unique look at her good friend, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, who is credited for bringing back the Montessori Movement in America.
This book not only looks at the Montessori Movement from a historical standpoint, but also a more personal standpoint. Nancy McCormick Rambusch clearly had an impact on the author (Phyllis Povell) and both McCormick Rambusch and Montessori are portrayed as leaders who had a vision of positive change in the educational system. This book is an important book not only for those interested in Montessori Education, but those who truly find a calling in education and are looking for inspirational leaders.
Book Information:
1. The Evolution of Women’s Leadership
2. The Radical Life of Maria Montessori
3. The Peripatetic Life of Nancy McCormick Rambusch
4. Montessori and Her Method Come to America
5. Montessori Education Returns as a Social Movement
Pages: 137 (not including index, biography, etc.)
Linkto purchase this book from
Back Cover:
What role did women’s leadership play in the introduction and revival of the Montessori Method in America? Phyllis Povell explores this question through the contributions of Maria Montessori and Nancy McCormick Rambusch, who brought the Montessori Method to the American educational scene.
Introduced to the U.S. in the early 20th century by Montessori herself, the Method lapsed into oblivion after WWI. Thanks to Rambusch, it was reborn after the launching of Sputnik.
In Montessori Comes to America, Povell traces the evolution of women’s leadership and its influence on the Montessori Method’s development. She includes insights from her own formative years, showing how childhood, education, and career all shape women into leaders.
New research not only illuminates the unique roles of two historic early childhood educators, but also updates the historical record and reveals the human dimension behind one of the most colorful chapters in American educational development.


Dear Montessori Teacher:

24 Aug

Dear Montessori Teacher,

You have a job and tradition to uphold.

You have a certain insight into childhood that others might share, but you do.

You have a responsibility to state what you believe is best for the children in your classroom.

You have a responsibility to do that within the idea of certain ideals and values you hold true.

You might be in a position like me. A die-hard Montessori fan who is a half a world away from a Montessori school and doing the best you can in your current situation of teaching to a test or a textbook. You might be in a situation where you don’t agree with EVERY Montessori idea you come across – God knows I have had to explain my “talking dog” to quite a few Montessorians. I can see those as justifiable.

What I find sickening and (more accurately, disturbing) are the long list of questions I see about how certain Montessori schools operate:
–behavior charts on the wall.
–No long, uninterrupted work time.
–No observations, but writing communication books every day.

And the truth is…I see these concerns from parents of your school who email me privately or on message boards that focus on Montessori. Most of the parents are too afraid to speak up because they do not want to rock the boat.

What is happening? Why are we doing this?

You have a special calling. You can do what the children need. You can be amazing in a child’s life. You can be that one teacher this child remembers for being the loving one…not the punitive one who moved their name from green to red, but really saught to talk to them with an understanding of the stress they are going through in school every day.

Get your act together now. If you’re not Montessori, tear the name off your school. Just stop making it hard for those that are by giving Montessori a bad reputation.

The BEST thing about being a Montessori teacher is learning how to do things better. If you haven’t had that wake up call, here it is. Go and deal with it.

Matt Bronsi