Evolution of a Montessori Guide

By Tammy Oesting, ClassrooMechanics, 25 February 2022

An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of humans, the enhancement of their value as individuals, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.

(Montessori, 1949/1992, p. 30) 

Just about every Montessori teacher I know has a story of personal transformation from their initial teacher training, yet most cannot quite put their finger on how to describe just what led to this new state of being. I was mid-way through my first Montessori teacher education course when I noticed the beginnings of my own metamorphosis; my interactions with others were more significant, I adopted needed self-regulation skills, I delved into deep reflection about my own conditioning, and maybe most of all, I nourished my burning passion for learning, one that I regularly fed. 

Years later, while facilitating a pre-pandemic teacher education course, an adult learner asked why it was important for the red rods to be carried straight up and down rather than side to side, or was it horizontal rather than vertical? This seemingly practical question sparked a deeply philosophical and reflective conversation that revealed less about that specific query and more about how Maria Montessori evolved her ideas over her life and career, including how she suggested carrying the rods! From there, it was an easy leap to make to open the discussion of adult transformation, what I now see as an evolution of a Montessori guide. 

I find that when Montessori practitioners leverage the wisdom of the universe, we can see our growth reflected in the patterns and rhythms prescribed by quantum tendencies. Transcending the stages of Montessori teacher development outlined by Sharon Dubble (based on the work of Malcolm and Hulda Knowles), I would suggest we further explore adult development through the lens of these tendencies and universal archetypes. In particular, Chaos theory lends us a vision for new beginnings that emerge and flourish under generative conditions. This same phenomenon of cycles of chaos and order that creates anew is embedded in the symbolic archetypes of death and rebirth that permeate culture throughout time and place.

Cultural Historian Thomas Berry (The Great Work, 2000) writes about acquiring a grateful and cosmic reciprocity as illustrated by symbols or archetypes that establish humans as a viable species in a viable life system. A guiding force for this exploration, the archetypal symbol of death and rebirth denotes transformation. I suggest Montessori guides adopt a sense of these systemic processes in the continuous transformation in the symbol of Death-Rebirth. I believe that within the Montessori cosmic curriculum that is founded on a functional cosmology (the empirical story of the universe), we can overcome our stagnation and begin the renewal of our own transformation on a sustainable basis (Berry, 2000, pp. 69-71).  

The story of the evolution of the Montessori guide might be viewed as a series of deaths and rebirths and knowledge of this evolution may amplify the spiritual development of the guide and all the hearts and minds they in turn impact. 

Join us this Tuesday 1 March at 19.00 (UTC) when we will explore patterns of development in adults working in Montessori communities with the intent of focussing on a recognisable trajectory of personal and professional growth that supports the holistic preparation of the guide who is equipped to fulfil their cosmic task.  

Utilising a simple analogy for growth based on multiple theories of adult development, Tammy will weave a strong case for amplifying awareness of our tendencies that lead to identifying what support we need to grow at definable stages to ensure lifelong learning. 

Register here.


  • Berry, T. (2000). The great work: Our way into the future. Crown. (Original work published 1999). 
  • Briggs, J., & Peat, F. D. (1999). Seven life lessons of chaos: Timeless wisdom of the science of change. Allen & Unwin. 
  • Capra, F., & Luisi, P. L. (2018). The systems view of life: A unifying vision. New York: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Dubble, S. (1999). The stages of development in teachers. In The whole-school Montessori handbook for teachers and administrators. Published. 
  • Krishnamurti, J. (2008). Education and the significance of life (1st ed.). HarperOne. (Original work published 1953). 
  • Montessori, M. (1995). The absorbent mind: A classic in education and child development for educators and parents (Reprint ed.). Holt Paperbacks. (Original work published 1949). 
  • Montessori, M. (1986). The discovery of the child. Ballantine Books. (Original work published 1948). 
  • Synergy and creative relationships: The power of collaborative consciousness. (2021, July 19). [Video]. YouTube.
  • Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. (2019). Five pillars of the mind: Redesigning education to suit the brain (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company

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