National Geographic Storica dedicated its December 2019 issue to the life and work of Dr Maria Montessori. Michela Castellarin reflects on some of its content…
The two authors, Adriana Castellarnau and Mercedes Castro, are no doubt in awe of Montessori’s life and work: their narrative is written with sound historical and educational knowledge and is filled with personal anecdotes which many of us are already familiar with… the less known episodes confirm her character’s magnitude and the scale of her achievements.
The message that man is the custodian of the physical and spiritual health of our world is not new and is already at the centre of many current debates within the educational realm. However, what was is clear in this publication is the fact that, towards the end of her life, Montessori doubted that her method was being interpreted according to these intentions. Maria’s granddaughter tells how, sometimes, when her now elderly grandma was alone, she used to say: “They did not understand anything. They did not understand anything,” referring to those who took and applied her words literally, without questioning, without thinking. Montessori was was referring to those who saw her method as fixed in time, static and unchangeable due to the scientific precision of its application; to those who isolated the methodology to the classroom and locked current social issues out. Montessori intended for her method to mature and to be perfected in accordance with the fluctuating needs of society, the changing needs of the times.
It is of vital important that we keep those inspiring principles of Cosmic Education at the heart of what we do… in our work as practitioners, and as we train future generations of Montessorians. Let’s remember Montessori’s actual vision and values; let’s open our doors to the outside world and involve children more in the issues of their local communities and of the environment.
Michela Castellarin, August 2020
A copy of the issue can be purchased here.