Lessons from the Periphery: The Role of Dispositions in Montessori
“The first thing required of a teacher is that he be rightly disposed for
Introduction: The Disposition Controversy
In 2002 the term “dispositions” entered the
vocabulary of teacher education with a vengeance when the National
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) added the concept
to its inventory of required standards. Teacher
education programs across the country developed lists of professional
dispositions that their graduates should attain based on NCATE provided
guidelines. Caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social
justice were values included in NCATE suggestions; these values were
emphasized and, subsequently, assessed in teacher education programs. Students
who were found lacking in these traits were counseled out of education
programs or given unsatisfactory grades, at least at some institutions.
A few of the affected students objected to their treatment, and local
administrators heard their complaints.
Controversy at the local level quickly accelerated to national stories
as conservative-leaning newspapers like the
New York Post, and
conservative commentators like George Will, brought to the attention of
the American public what they viewed as the latest round in American
In an attempt to quiet the criticism, Arthur Wise,
the president of NCATE, appeared before the Education Department’s
National Advisory Council in June 2006 and denied the assertion “that
NCATE has a mandatory social justice standard.” Wise then agreed to
remove social justice from its glossary because the term is “susceptible
to a wide variety of definitions.” As a result of
this preemptive withdrawal by Wise, critics from both the left and the
right were mollified, at least temporarily.
Today, the term ‘dispositions’ in teacher education
has become a code for attitudes, values, and even political leanings.
This has rendered the concept controversial within the teacher
education world. To many on
the right, it means an attempt by a liberal and politically correct
professoriate to indoctrinate the country’s future teachers into
misguided social beliefs. To many on the left, it is a common-sense term
that highlights the necessity of teachers to be more than mere
repositories of skills and techniques.
While conventional teacher educators and
policymakers continue to wrangle over the proper meaning and uses of
professional dispositions, for one alternative approach to professional
preparation, the concept is anything but controversial. For nearly a
century, the pedagogical approach known as the Montessori method has
placed the cultivation of teachers’ attitudes and values at the center
of the process of becoming a teacher. In Montessori teacher training,
‘preparing the adult’ emotionally and spiritually is fundamental to the
education of future teachers. In this
paper we highlight the values and attitudes that Montessori teachers are
expected to attain and describe why these qualities are so central to
the pedagogy. In doing so, we offer what we hope will be useful lessons
related to the utility and meaning of dispositions for mainstream
Montessori: A Traditional Approach to Education
2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the
opening of the first Montessori school. Maria Montessori started with
one small school of fifty students in the poverty-stricken San Lorenzo
Maria Montessori held her first training course for
teachers in 1909 at Villa Montesca, the Umbrian estate of Barone
Leopoldo Franchetti and his American-born wife Alice Hallgarten
Franchetti. Just two years after the opening of the first
Casa dei Bambini, Maria
Montessori was deep into her revolutionary pedagogical “experiment” and
had already attracted international attention brought on by the “miracle
children” of San Lorenzo, whose reading, writing, and self-care looked
more like that of well-behaved adults than the young, impoverished
residents of Rome’s tenements.
For the next fifty years, Montessori, together with a small but
loyal cadre of followers, continued to experiment with what she came to
call “scientific pedagogy.”
At the heart of Montessori’s approach lay a
radically reconfigured vision of childhood, one in which children are
viewed as deeply invested in their own development, and able to achieve
the fulfillment of their human potential through self-construction.
Within this system, the role of the teacher is also radically
reconfigured. Education is
understood as an aid to life, and the teacher’s primary responsibility
is to eliminate impediments to the natural course of human development.
To be a Montessori educator, in other words, is to replace the
disposition toward filling the child with information with faith in the
child’s developmental instincts and a commitment to directing that
development based on cues provided by the child.
Throughout her career, Maria Montessori gave
somewhere close to a hundred training courses aimed specifically at
cultivating this disposition in the adult.
The “preparation of the adult,” as she called it, rested almost
entirely in a deliberate re-casting of the adult’s relationship to the
child. In her voluminous
writings about the method, a large portion is devoted to both justifying
and explicating that re-casting. While the theme of the prepared adult
runs throughout nearly all of Montessori’s published writings, here we
rely primarily on the ideas expressed in her book,
The Absorbent Mind.
Regarded by many Montessorians as one of the more mature and accessible
statements of her views of childhood and pedagogy,
The Absorbent Mind was
published originally in English in 1949.
The book is based on a series of lectures given by Dr. Montessori
near the end of her life during a training course offered at
The Prepared Adult
Maria Montessori thought it essential to create a
new type of teacher for her method. She even gave the position a new
name—directress—accentuating the notion that the adult is to guide, but
not control, the natural energy of children. The term is still used by
many Montessori teachers today. If the term seems odd sounding to
twenty-first century Americans, the expectations for the teacher are
odder still, especially to mainstream teacher educators.
In a training lecture captured by her friend and
sometime collaborator, E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori noted that a
teacher “must be filled with wonder; and when you have acquired that you
are prepared.” To be filled
with wonder requires the teacher to connect to both an inner
spirituality and to the cosmos. These are grand themes and grand
connections, and they emphasize the deep transformation that Maria
Montessori deemed essential.
We identify three interconnected dispositions that
lie at the heart of the Montessori approach:
requires both skill in observation and a well-developed knowledge of
Montessori pedagogy. The ultimate goal of flexibility is to “follow the
child,” a catch phrase of Montessori education. Following the child, of
course, requires that the teacher be willing to go where the child
leads, a concept that stands in stark contrast to prevailing notions of
the teacher as transmitter, motivator, and monitor of student results.
Related to flexibility is restraint, a higher-level disposition
that presumes both flexibility and a level of self-control.
Montessori wrote that this trait “comes with practice, like
everything else, but it never comes very easily” (Montessori, 1949,
256). Love, in turn, flows from restraint. It stems from a deep respect
for the powers of development and the child’s work—what Montessori
referred to as “great work.” Embedded
in all three of these dispositions, but especially in love, is the idea
of serving the child. In serving the child (in the great work of
development), as Montessori put it, “one serves life” (261).
These dispositions represented radical
characteristics for a teacher when first proposed by Maria Montessori.
They suggested a profoundly different way for teachers to interact with
both children and the learning environment. Based on an assumption that
children are invested in their own development—that minds are not blank
slates to be filled by adults—they call the teacher to careful
observation of children and a willingness to allow a child to proceed at
her own pace. Montessori used the metaphor of a valet to get the point
. . . a good valet looks after his master. He keeps
his master’s dressing table tidy, puts the brushes in place, but he does
not tell his master when to use the brushes; he serves his meals, but
does not oblige his master to eat; having served everything nicely,
without a word, he discreetly disappears (256).
The good teacher, like the good valet, must serve
the child’s spirit. When the spirit’s needs are shown, the teacher must
rush to find out what is needed and serve the child accordingly.
Like the whole of the Montessori Method, the
preparation of the adult entails a fully integrated conception of the
adult as guide. In addition
to cultivating the teacher as a particular kind of person, Montessori
teacher training also features highly technical instruction in
observation, lesson presentation, and material making.
Learning to follow the child is an intensive process, blending
technique with disposition. Moreover, the process is assumed to extend
throughout the teacher’s entire lifespan and infuse the whole of her
outlook: intellectual, moral, and spiritual.
Achieving this outlook means one has become not just a teacher,
but a Montessorian. In the following sections, we take up each of
the dispositions that we have identified and describe in greater detail
their meaning in Montessori teacher training.
The disposition toward flexibility is, perhaps,
most familiar to mainstream educators.
The ability to respond to variability within the classroom and
diversity among students is prized among educators of all persuasions.
For Montessorians, however, flexibility is a signal disposition,
the absence of which renders ‘following the child’ impossible.
The need for flexibility on the part of the Montessori teacher is
most evident in two ways. First, in her role as ‘keeper and custodian’
of the classroom, the teacher must be able to adjust the environment
based on the children’s needs. Second, the teacher must possess a supple
repertoire of interactions with children.
The Absorbent Mind, Montessori
places the element of keeper and custodian of the environment above all
others. The teacher must make the classroom a place of “comfort and
peace, with full and varied interests.” Montessori describes it this
The essential charm of a house (classroom) is its
cleanliness and order, with everything in its place, dusted, bright and
cheerful . . . The teacher in the school must not do otherwise. All the
apparatus is to be kept meticulously in order, beautiful and shining, in
perfect condition. Nothing may be missing, so that to the child it
always seems new, complete and ready for use. This means that the
teacher also must be attractive, pleasing in appearance, tidy and clean,
calm and dignified (253).
At first glance, here is a professional disposition
that is quite explicit on the need for a professional dress and demeanor
on the part of the teacher and for the classroom to exhibit order and
beauty. On a deeper level, however, Montessori’s exhortation to “watch
over the environment” (253) is an acknowledgement of the limits of the
teacher’s power. The environment, rather than the child, is the locus of
control. In order to follow the child, the teacher must sublimate her
urge to control the child, and seek, instead, to cultivate with
meticulous care the physical and emotional space in which children
Just as important is the need for a teacher to know
how and when to “give the children sensorial and cultural apparatus”
(255). That is, the teacher must be able to know what materials are
needed based on a child’s interest and readiness. A Montessori teacher
must be flexible enough to have at the ready, and on the shelves, varied
materials, each suiting the differing needs of the children in the
class. In the mixed-age world of a typical Montessori environment, each
child is working at his or her own pace according to his or her own
interest. In order to direct
this work, the teacher must be alert to the individual needs and desires
of each child. One child
will be engaged in practical life learning while another may be working
on a cultural activity such as science or history.
One of the central skills fostered in Montessori teacher training
is the ability to observe the needs and aptitude of a child and to
develop a flexible plan that allows a child to find appropriate work.
This means she must present the material regularly,
showing its exact use. General surveillance and individual teaching,
given with precision, are two ways in which the teacher can help the
child’s development . . . These lessons, exact and fascinating, given in
an intimate way to each child separately, are the teacher’s offering to
the depths of the child’s soul (Montessori, 247).
Precision, as Montessori describes it, is the
partner of flexibility. Like
a jazz musician, the ability to improvise is grounded in profound
mastery of a large and varied repertoire of lessons.
A Montessori teacher can fulfill the requirement to be flexible
if she or he is completely knowledgeable of the hundreds of Montessori
materials available for the classroom and their appropriate use.
Flexibility requires deep understanding not only of Montessori theory,
but also of Montessori lessons. This deep understanding is attained, in
part, through the development of substantial teacher manuals, known as
albums, which provide the theoretical context as well as procedural
details of materials and lessons.
A second component of flexibility is the ability to
be supple in behavior toward the children. While on the one hand, a
teacher must show restraint to students immersed in their work or on the
verge of concentration (discussed in detail in the following section),
on the other hand, the teacher must also be able to “break the flow of
disturbing activity” (Montessori, 254). If a child is disrupting the
cycle of activity and interfering with his or her own work and that of
others, the teacher must be flexible enough to engage the student in
alternative behavior. “The interruption may take the form of any kind of
exclamation, or in showing a special and affectionate interest in the
troublesome child.” Montessori
gives specific examples of how this interruption may take place, even
suggesting several possible questions or prompts: “How are you, Johnny?
Come with me, I have something for you to do.”
If the child does not respond to the first prompt, a teacher
might add, “All right, it doesn’t matter. Let’s go to the garden” (254)
and take the child away from where others are working.
Restraint is not easy for adults when they are
dealing with younger humans who do not share their experience or
knowledge. A natural response of an adult teacher when seeing a child
trying to learn new material—whether it is learning how to read,
acquiring the mechanics needed to throw a baseball, or learning the
intricacies of playing a musical instrument—is to intervene by inserting
him or herself in the learning process. Maria Montessori, however,
. . . the
teacher must learn to control herself so that the child’s spirit shall
be free to expand and show its powers; the essence of her duty is not to
interrupt the child in his efforts. This is a moment in which the
delicacy of the teacher’s moral sensitiveness, acquired during her
training, comes into play. She must learn that it is not easy to help,
nor even, perhaps, to stand still and watch (248).
The restraint needed, in other words, is so
complete that a child in a Montessori classroom must not even be aware
that his or her actions are being observed.
Dr. Montessori, trained as a physical
anthropologist, scientist, and physician, went on to note that restraint
is necessary even while observing because an observation of an event
changes an event. The idea
is similar to the popular notion of Heisenberg’s famous Uncertainty
Principle. In other
words, the very act of observation can change how a child acts in the
classroom. For Maria Montessori it was important that the observation
conducted by the teacher not be undertaken with either the aim of making
the teacher’s presence felt, or “of helping the weaker ones” by the
teacher’s own strength. Instead, it is the obligation of the teacher to
observe with restraint so that the teacher can “recognize the child who
has attained the power to concentrate and to admire the glorious rebirth
of his spirit” (249).
Restraint on the part of the teacher enables
concentration, a key Montessori aim. Children absorbed in their work,
undergoing deep concentration, are happy, according to Dr. Montessori.
More importantly, while concentrating, the child is able to shut out the
others in the classroom and perceive the world anew.
In other words, it is through concentration that the “great work”
of self-construction takes place.
Eventually, the child’s concentration results in an “awakening of
the social sense.” At that time the child may turn to the teacher and
“discover” the teacher in the same way that one notices “the hardly
perceptible scent of flowers hidden in the grass” (249). The “great
principle” that fosters success for the teacher is to “act as if the
child does not exist” once concentration has begun. Any interference can
break the spell because concentration for the very young is as fragile
as a “soap bubble” (255).
The ultimate goal for a Montessori teacher
exhibiting restraint is to nurture self-directed learning in her
students and to facilitate “education for life.” Dr. Montessori devoted
an entire chapter of The Absorbent
Mind to the concept. In her usage, education for life means not only
that lifelong learning is possible and desirous, but also that education
should be connected to both biological and social life.
The concept of love is rarely addressed in
conventional teacher preparation programs. In part, this is due to our
lack of comfort in thinking of the relationship between teachers and
students in this way. The discussion also may be neglected because love
is too personal to be addressed in the group setting of a teacher
preparation classroom, even though the airwaves are filled with pop
songs dwelling on romantic love. The closest we get to the concept of
love in conventional teacher education programs is when we talk about an
ethic of care in the manner of Nel Noddings or when there is a
discussion of teaching from the heart in the manner of Parker Palmer. For Maria
Montessori, however, love was elemental to following the child.
Absorbent Mind Maria Montessori speaks of two levels of love. The
first is more common and centers on the care of and affection for
children. In Montessori’s formulation, this first level of love is akin
to the maternal love exhibited by a mother for her child. Mothers
nurture and clothe their children due to a bond created at birth. It is
deep and unequivocal, but the love is based on personal and material
relationships and the child’s dependency on the mother to provide basic
needs. Moreover, this level of love has a spiritual dimension. Grounded
in her own life as a Catholic, Montessori wrote about teaching the
catechism to children and teaching children how to say their prayers as
a form of love.
It is a second, transcendent and compassionate
level of love, that occupies a larger place in the life of a Montessori
trained teacher. This transcendent love moves beyond the “personal and
material” (258). “To serve the
children is to feel one is serving the spirit of man, a spirit which has
to free itself.” Montessori teachers experiencing this level of love
feel “lifted to a height” (258) never known before. This supreme love
can be attained only through the child in the classroom. The following
lengthy passage should make this clear.
Before this, she [the Montessori teacher] used to
feel that her task was a noble one, but she was glad when the holidays
came and hoped, like all human beings who work for others, that her
working hours would be reduced and her salary raised. Her satisfactions
were, perhaps, to exert authority and to have the feeling of being an
ideal to which the children looked up and tried to emulate. It would
make her happy to become a headmistress, or even an inspectress. But to
go from this level to the higher one is to understand that true
happiness does not lie in these things. One who has drunk at the
fountain of spiritual happiness says good-bye of his own accord to the
satisfactions that come from a higher professional status, and this is
shown by the many heads of schools and inspectors who have abandoned
their careers to dedicate themselves to small children, and to become
what others call contemptuously “infant teachers” (258).
This level of love is transformational for the
adult as well as for the child.
As described by Montessori, an adult experiencing this love is
able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” Prior
to the transformation, the teacher believed that “it was she who had
taught the children, she who had raised them from a low level to a
higher one.” Afterward, however, the teacher ascribes her own
contributions by stating, “I have helped this life to fulfil the tasks
set for it by creation” (259).
With love, then, the disposition for Montessori
teaching has circled back to and connected with the need for restraint.
The self has become less dominant in the classroom and there is complete
acceptance in following the child. Montessori teacher training seeks
nothing less than an emotional and spiritual transformation of the
adult. This is disposition acquisition with vigor and intensity, and it
stands in stark contrast to the approach currently pursued in mainstream
Educational Outcomes: A Contemporary Conundrum
Nearly one hundred years ago, when information
about Montessori pedagogy first came to the
A concentration on the achievement of children in
Montessori education, while important and noteworthy, fails to capture
what Maria Montessori considered the essential outcome of her pedagogy:
the fulfillment of the child’s potential.
In classrooms directed by prepared adults, children’s souls and
psychic lives develop in ways that can transform not just the child’s
life, but the whole of society.
As Montessori experimented with the pedagogy, observing the
behavior of children at work in prepared environments, her aims for the
method expanded to include, even emphasize, peace and social justice.
In a series of lectures in the 1930s, Maria Montessori
articulated an argument that her approach to education could even lead
to the end of conflict and war.
For contemporary Montessorians, the link between healthy human
development and social progress continues to shape the teacher’s
identity. In other words,
Montessori education does not shrink from social justice as a core aim;
rather, it places it center stage.
A recent article in the
Boston Globe, a story that is
the exception to the usual piece focusing on academic achievement,
brings to the fore the possible impact on a child and his mother of a
Montessori teacher’s dispositional configuration and curricular
approach. The mother, Deborah Gardner Walker, wrote that her son thrived
in the Montessori environment academically. “
But knowledge for the
sake of knowledge has never been the point. Dr. Montessori was a person
of deep faith and she sought to nurture the spirit of children, to
create peacemakers - helping even 3-year-olds learn how to resolve
Dr. Montessori had a
vision of ending the horrors of the great wars forever and she saw
children as our best hope for peace.
Lessons from the Periphery
The expectation that adults will undergo a
transformation in their understanding, not only of child development and
pedagogy, but also of their emotional and spiritual lives, has always
been central to Montessori teacher training. Maria Montessori ran her
teacher training institutes with the goal of preparing the adult to
demonstrate flexibility, restraint, and love in both the classroom and
in life. Through empirical observation, she concluded that by developing
new ways of experiencing the classroom, new ways of interacting with the
world came into being. She celebrated this discovery and sought to make
transformation of the adult a hallmark of teacher training.
A century later, these notions are no longer new,
but they remain revolutionary.
Today Montessori teacher preparation programs continue to strive
for transformation. The
Conventional teacher education and Montessori
teacher training rarely intersect in the
Undeniably, the process of becoming a Montessori
teacher is deeply different from that found in more conventional teacher
education programs. Nevertheless, we argue that Montessori’s concept of
the prepared adult offers useful insight into the controversy
surrounding the meaning and utility of professional dispositions.
The example of Montessori teacher formation highlights the
importance of dispositions in becoming a teacher, of any persuasion.
It also highlights the challenge of both identifying and
cultivating those dispositions and, more importantly, linking those
dispositions to the purpose of schooling itself.
For Montessori, the prepared adult was a central
means of revolutionizing education.
The teacher is meant to serve as the embodiment of a “new” vision
of education as an aid to life.
To achieve this goal, Montessori teacher preparation aims
directly toward reshaping the adult’s attitudes toward learning and
human relationships. This effort is so intense that Montessorians
frequently talk about their transformational experience.
Moreover, the transformation is deliberately constructed to link
the technical details of practice to the larger, social aims of the
method. A prominent
Montessori trainer recently offered the following account of the
significance of those details:
“After the tedious work of analyzing our movements for days on
end and realizing there are some thirty-five steps to folding a napkin,
a student raised her hand and asked, ‘What does folding napkins have to
do with world peace?’ At that moment in time, I knew the best response
was ‘Everything, you shall see.’”
The most significant lesson mainstream educators
can learn from the example of Montessori teacher preparation is the
profound coherence that exists within the system.
While Montessorians can and do disagree about the details of
practice, the fact that they can map a relationship between folding a
napkin and world peace is what distinguishes the method from nearly all
other educational approaches.
In its exquisite focus on the how’s as well as why’s of human
development, Montessori practice demands vigorous attention to the
details of learning and teaching.
Such a focus remains lacking in mainstream teacher preparation,
and until it is located, concepts like dispositions will do little to
improve teacher quality or eliminate the achievement gap.
In an era of high stakes accountability, the notion
that education should aim for more than adequate yearly progress can
seem like a lofty, even unattainable, goal.
Yet, the example of Montessori teacher training suggests that it
is precisely those larger aims that inspire quality.
It is important to remember the words of the mother of a
Montessori educated child who proclaimed, “knowledge for the sake of
knowledge has never been the point.”
A final lesson is that the work of preparing future teachers is “great work” in its own right. To do it correctly, those involved in teacher preparation must be willing to articulate a persuasive position and not back down from possible confrontations with policy-makers or the press. Maria Montessori wrote numerous books, gave countless lectures, and sought to maintain control over teacher preparation to ensure that her approach remained pure in intent and spirit. Those in conventional education should do no less.
Thanks & Acknowledgements
We wish to thank the Spencer Foundation for its financial support of this research. Montgomery Kenison generously shared his insights on Montessori history and training and offered valuable criticism on an earlier version of this article. This article is dedicated to the memory of Mary P. Hayes (1944-2007), Montessori teacher, trainer, and General Secretary of Association Montessori Internationale, whose thoughtful recollections of her own formation as a Montessorian and whose life-long commitment to following the child led us, along with many others, to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Montessorian.
 Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood (New York: Ballantine Books, 1966 ), 149.
 NCATE, “NCATE Unit Standards (2006 Edition),” http://www.ncate.org/public/unitStandardsRubrics.asp?ch=4#stnd1 (accessed February 15, 2007).
 Robin Wilson, “’We don’t need that kind of attitude:’ Education Schools Want to Make Sure Prospective Teachers Have the Right 'Disposition,'” The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 16, 2005, http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i17/17a00801.htm (accessed February 15, 2007).
 Jacob Gersham,
“’Disposition’ Emerges as Issue at
 Elia Powers, “A Spirited Disposition Debate,” Inside Higher Ed, (June 6, 2006), http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/06/06/disposition (accessed February 20, 2007); Paula Wasley, “Accreditor of Education Schools Drops Controversial ‘Social Justice’ Language,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2006, http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=5806hq8cdzbg75mqlg333yplwgskmzhs (accessed February 15, 2007).
 Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, “Victory for Freedom of Conscience in Education Schools: NCATE to Drop ‘Social Justice’ Recommendation for Teacher Certification,” Press Release, June 6, 2006, http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/7083.html (accessed February 25, 2007). Seven months later, however, social justice is still in the dispositions definition in the online version of the glossary.
 Examples of both points of view can be found in the online comments section at the conclusion of Powers, “A Spirited Disposition Debate.”
 Research on contemporary Montessori teacher training is virtually nonexistent. One of this paper’s authors is in the midst of a study of Montessori teacher training. See Jacqueline Cossentino and Jennifer Whitcomb, “Culture, Coherence, and Craft-Oriented Teacher Education: The Case of Montessori Teacher Training” (paper delivered at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, April 2003).
 Statistics on
Montessori schools, unfortunately, are imprecise. Difficulties
in determining numbers of schools or students in attendance
arise from two primary factors: 1) Montessori is not a
registered trademark. Any organization, or any individual, can
start a school and advertise it as using the Montessori method.
There is no requirement to affiliate with a Montessori
organizing body. 2)
There are dozens of Montessori organizations around the world.
Each is independent with its own standards for membership and
methodology in reporting members. Our figures come from the
Centenary of the Montessori Movement website, “Media Briefing:
Montessori Around the World,” December, 2006,
http://montessoricentenary.org/ (accessed February 21,
2007); and from email correspondence with Joke Verheul in the
office of the Secretariat, Association Montessori
 Angeline Stoll
Lillard, Montessori: The
Story Behind the Genius (
 Tales of the “miracle children” first came to the attention of the American public through a series of articles in the popular magazine McClure’s. See Josephine Tozier, “An Educational Wonder-Worker: The Methods of Maria Montessori.” McClure’s Magazine, 37, May, 1911.
 Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, the Clio Montessori Series, Volume 1. Translated by Claude A. Claremont (Oxford: Clio Press, 1988), 11.
 The standard biography of Maria Montessori remains Rita Kramer, Maria Montessori: A Biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).
 Several American students in the first international training courses offered by Maria Montessori wrote about their training experience, including the centrality of concern about the habits of mind and the emotional characteristics that Montessori teachers should exhibit. See, for example, Clara E. Craig, The Montessori System of Child Culture: A Report of Clara E. Craig Presented to the State Board of Education, Department of Education, State of Rhode Island, September 2, 1913, Rhode Island Education Circulars; and Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, Montessori Children (New York: Henry Holt, 1915).
The Absorbent Mind was
first published in 1949 (
 E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work (New York: Plume, 1984 ), 309.
 Maria Montessori never listed an essential list of traits. We have culled these as elemental dispositions from our own reading of the writings of Dr. Montessori.
Montessori, Education for
 Online catalogs of Montessori materials are accessible through the website of Association Montessori Internationale, http://www.montessori-ami.org/ (accessed February 15, 2007). One of the best catalogs is the one by the Dutch firm, Nienhuis Montessori, http://montessori.nienhuis.com/html/01_products_introduction.php?fluxmenu=m3 (accessed March 4, 2007).
 The most rigorous training programs require teachers in training to create their own albums based on transcriptions of lectures and practice with the materials. Other programs provide lesson write-ups and require students to illustrate the lay-outs.
 “Whatever you
study, you also change” is a recent example of how The
Uncertainty Principle is understood within popular culture. This
line is from the film The
 Developmental psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls concentration leading to optimal experience “flow.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (New York: Harper and Row, 1990). See also, Kevin Rathunde, “Montessori Education and Optimal Experience: A Framework for New Research,” The NAMTA Journal, 26 (2001): 11-43.
 Nel Noddings,
The Challenge to Care in
Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education, Second
 See Cossentino,
“Ritualizing Expertise: A Non-Montessori View of the Montessori
Method,” for a fuller discussion of the role of love in
Montessori teaching practice.
Daniel Liston and Jim Garrison, eds.
Teaching, Learning and Loving: Reclaiming Passion in Educational
Montessori, Mass Explained
to Children (London: Sheed and Ward, 1932) was a longer
spiritual work. Subsequent work has been completed by Sofia
Cavaletti, The Religious
Potential of the Child: Experiencing Scripture and Liturgy with
Young Children (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications,
1992). Rich Barlow, “Developing Faith Through Montessori,”
The Boston Globe,
February 3, 2007 highlights contemporary connections between
spirituality and the Montessori method,
Tozier, “An Educational Wonder-Worker”; “A School Without Desks,
or Classes, or Recitations,”
New York Times,
December 24, 1911, SM7;
and Anne E. George, “The
 Erin Richards, “A Bright Spot For City's Schools; Montessori Students Outperform Traditionally Taught Students Academically and Socially, Report Finds,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 2006, 1; and Jay Mathews, “Montessori, Now 100, Goes Mainstream; Once Considered Radical and Elitist, Method Creeping Into Public Schools,” The Washington Post, January 2, 2007, Metro section, B01.
 Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood (New York: Ballantine Books, 1972 ), 109-118.
Montessori, Education and
Peace (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1972); Jacqueline Cossentino
and Jennifer A. Whitcomb, “Peace as a Premise for Learning:
Maria Montessori,” in Ethical Visions of Education: Philosophies in Practice, ed.
David T. Hansen (
 Deborah Gardner
Walker, “A Milestone for Montessori Evokes a Mother’s
Globe, January 7, 2007, Globe North section, 4,
Molly O’Shaughnessy “A Vision of the Montessori
Movement for the Next Century” Paper delivered at the 25th
International Congress of the Association Montessori