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Doctoral Dissertation

Montessori in India: A Study of the Application of her Method in a Developing Country

Available from: University of Sydney Libraries

Asia, Ceylon, India, Maria Montessori - Biographic sources, Montessori method of education - Criticism, interpretation, etc., South Asia, Sri Lanka, Theosophical Society, Theosophy

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Abstract/Notes: In India the Montessori Method has survived in various forms for a continuous period longer than virtually anywhere else in the world. Its adoption coincided with a crucial period in the nation's history when a growing nationalist movement was seeking to rid the country of foreign domination and dependency. Although the Method was foreign, the emphasis on liberty and the development of individuals capable of independent thought and action appealed to elite groups and to elements of the nationalist movement. The Method was believed to be modern and scientific and was greeted with enthusiasm by those who sought modernization and progress in a traditional society. Late in life Maria Montessori, accompanied by her son Mario, visited India, and her presence over a period of almost nine years from 1939-46 and 1947-49 gave a boost to the growing Montessori movement. Whilst in India, Montessori gave full voice to the spiritualism inherent in her work. In the West she was considered eccentric and her Method out of date, but in India, where religion exerted a powerful and pervasive influence, she was consistent with an ancient tradition of religious educators. A sprinkling of Indians had always attended her international training courses abroad, and in India they flocked to hear her message of human regeneration through the child. The Montessori Method was largely patronized by a relatively affluent, Westernized and urbanized elite who could afford the expensive apparatus. Gandhi, however, had urged Montessori to devise materials in accordance with the economic and social conditions prevailing in India's villages. Although she found much time during the years in India to develop her Method further to cover the period from birth to three years and from six to twelve years, she appears to have given little thought to its application among the country's largely illiterate poor who comprised the bulk of the population. However, an "Indianized" Montessori movement emerged in Western India, allied to the Gandhian nationalist movement, which became concerned with "adapting" the Method according to Gandhian principles, and applying it in the villages. The resultant hybrid pre-primary education enjoyed widespread application in post-Independence India and received recognition at the national level by government and non-government agencies. Recently it has been afforded a crucial role in a major human resources development programme designed to alleviate the effects of poverty amongst women and young children. The present study has drawn on a wide range of primary and secondary sources including archival material, newspapers, journals, published and unpublished correspondence, and personal interviews to trace the history of the Montessori movement in India from the time of early interest in the Method in 1912. The early chapters provide an introduction to Montessori's life and work and an historical background to the adoption of the Method. The application of the Method and the expansion of the Montessori movement is explored in subsequent chapters and, finally, in chapters six and seven, the study discusses directions in the movement after the departure of Madame Montessori and her son in 1949.

Language: English

Published: Sydney, Australia, 1987


Age of Miracles

Available from: Indian Montessori Foundation

Asia, Ceylon, Maria Montessori - Speeches, addresses, etc., South Asia, South Asia, Sri Lanka

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Abstract/Notes: The 1944 lectures in Colombo, hitherto unpublished, are a treasure trove of the principles of the human science on which education should be based. Maria Montessori explains the child’s powers and points out the inability of the adult to recognise the child’s inherent capabilities. She makes some significant observations of the assimilation of languages by children and offers constructive ways of supporting their process. Conversational in tone, but yet profoundly moving the analogies and anecdotes weave a coherent narrative of child development. The historical document reaches Dr. Montessori’s voice to students across the years and are a clear call to awareness of the child’s needs and the true nature of his budding personality.

Language: English

Published: Chennai, India: Indian Montessori Foundation, 2019

ISBN: 978-81-936973-2-0

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