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Dear Friend,

We are often contacted by members of the Montessori Community, asking if we know of any Montessori-trained practitioners who might be interested in moving to work in a new setting. We are regularly told that it is difficult, these days, to find Montessori-trained practitioners for job-openings. Yet the job descriptions we are asked to post generally specify that the successful candidate must be Montessori trained.


So what makes a good Montessori practitioner?

Barbara invites us to consider this question in this week's blog post, and this Tuesday 17 May at 19.00 (BST), we invite you to join us to hear from Molly Easton who is mainstream trained but started a Montessori daycare, employing non-Montessori teachers with whom she is working to deliver a Montessori experience for the children attending. Please join us by registering here.

In The Secret of Childhood (Kindle Version, 2017), Montessori tells us that "The educator must not imagine that he can prepare himself for his office merely by study" (p. 91), and let's not forget that important statement in The Discovery of the Child (Kindle Version, 2017), in which she states that "I personally believe that we should give more attention to imparting a spirit to teachers... that is, our aim should be towards what is intellectual, rather than material" (p. 15). This view is echoed in her work Creative Development in the Child (2020), where she says "If we wish to become successful teachers in this new educational method, we must reconsider our task, and personality as teachers... The main task is not to learn the method but to open a new and better way of life for the child" (p. 250).

So what makes a good Montessori practitioner?

Montessori is quite clear on the preparation required to become an effective Montessori guide. She talks significantly about the spiritual preparation of the teacher who she feels must "keep her imagination alive; for....the Montessori teacher is constantly looking for a child who is not yet there" (Montessori, M. 2007, The Absorbent Mind, p. 252). In other words, the Montessori teacher is someone who believes in the child and has faith in the child. She writes that the teacher must be free of "all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be" (idem), and that they must be "seductive, she must entice the children" (idem, p. 253). In other words, they must be open-minded and be able to find ways to invite the children to engage with them and their environment. And they must have the confidence to step back, the belief in the child's own journey in order to be able to say "The children are now working as if I did not exist" (idem, p. 259).

They must have a scientific interest in the child and a desire and ability to observe so that they can contribute to preparing an environment which meets the child's developmental needs and interests: "the first step to take in order to become a Montessori teacher is to shed omnipotence and to become a joyous observer" (Montessori, M. The Discovery of the Child, 2017, p. 81, Kindle Version). She shares more on the importance of having a scientific spirit above and beyond just a mechanical spirit in The Discovery of the Child in the chapter called 'On the Application of Science to the School'.

And, finally, we return to her words of wisdom in Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, where she invites us to take to heart that "On every teacher and every parent, I urge not great instruction, but humility and simplicity in dealing with small children" (Montessori, M. Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, 2019, pp. 19-20, Kindle Version).

We hope this guidance from Montessori herself invites you to reflect on what makes a good Montessori practitioner, and that you will join us on Tuesday evening to hear how employing non-Montessori trained staff can work in practice.

With all warm wishes for this Sunday, and we hope to see you on Tuesday.

With our warmest wishes,

Additional Resources

Nurturing the Spirit, Aline D. Wolf
The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori
The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, Maria Montessori
Readings for Reflective Teaching in Early Education, Ed. by Jennifer Colwell and Andrew Pollard
Coaching Course - Montessori Society - January 2023 (contact Montessori Society directly for details)
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