QUESTION 1 -
From: "Michelle K. Reed"
Subject: Question for Professor von Glasersfeld on Maria Montessori
Professor von Glasersfeld,
For the past several years I have been very interested in the work of Dr. Maria
Montessori. Some people seem to misunderstand her extensive use of manipulative materials as a belief on her part of
somewhat behavioristic notions. I believe her to be a constructivist, because she created the materials to allow
children to experiment with their surroundings to spark their natural urge to learn and to reflect within themselves
about what they experienced. She believed that children's environments should not inhibit their natural, inevitable
growth (physically, intellectually, emotionally) by forcing them to conform in any way to the ideals of others, but
that interesting materials should be displayed for "free" children to take up as their interest was
sparked. (Of course, this is my interpretation of her words).
My question is: Have you read any of Dr. Montessori's works? If so, would you consider her to be a radical
Ohio State University
Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education
253 Arps Hall, 1945 N. High St.,Columbus, OH 43210
ANSWER 1 ( for Michelle Reed): Montessori's pedagogy is indeed
compatible with constructivism (I read her Self-generated learning (?) some fifty years ago) and even Piaget,
who hardly ever cited anyone, had nice things to say about her. However, M. was a practitioner and did not spend
much time on philosophical underpinnings. I don't know how far she would have agreed with the radical epistemology.
The difference I make between "teaching", that fosters the experience of satisfaction and fun in learning,
and "training", that aims only at performance, is, I think, very much how she saw it.