“Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.”
— Dr Maria Montessori
Dr Maria Montessori, physician, anthropologist and pedagogue, studied children of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for over 50 years. Her intense scientific observation of the human being from birth to maturity allowed her to distil a body of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical principles. These, together with a vast range of auto-didactic materials, came to be known as the Montessori Method of Education.
Montessori teacher training is exactly one hundred years old this year. Maria Montessori gave her first teacher training course in Italy in 1909. Twenty years on, in 1929, she founded Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to maintain the integrity of her life’s work.
Today AMI is a recognised worldwide movement with a mission of promoting and propagating Dr Montessori’s scientific pedagogy, and continues to offer Montessori teacher training of the highest standard.
Since 1909, Montessori education has found fertile ground in many countries. At present there are more than 22,000 schools worldwide. And AMI, as a global provider of Montessori courses, works with accredited training centres in well over 20 countries. At these accredited training centres students are prepared for Montessori certification at three different levels, enabling them to work with children in the 0-3, 3-6 and 6-12 age groups.
Places like Albania and Uganda are on their way to introducing Montessori education, but there are also longstanding working relationships with Montessori schools and projects in countries like Kenya and Tanzania.
This work can only be done with the enthusiasm and dedication of the AMI trainers that are willing to travel around the globe to spread the Montessori method. AMI training centres have been training teachers for many years, some of which were started by Dr Montessori herself, such as the training centre at Karachi which goes back to 1949 with Mrs Gool K. Minwalla as director of training (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Montessori Teachers Training Centre, Karachi is the only AMI-affiliated training centre in Pakistan.
Beyond the school
The Montessori movement, however, is far broader than “the school” and works to assist children and their families in a variety of settings. Montessorians serve as advocates for all children — championing the rights of the child in society.
AMI, UN and Unesco
AMI also promotes Montessori within the structures of internationally-renowned bodies, such as the United Nations and Unesco. AMI’s representative to the United Nations is Evelyn Greenberg. Her alternate is Silvia C. Dubovoy. On a weekly basis the United Nations offers information seminars to nongovernmental organisation representatives dealing with issues such as health, safety education, children, human rights, older citizens, diabetes, rural women, fighting poverty and others. The AMI representatives attend conferences and voice the Montessori philosophy. For upcoming events visit www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/index.asp
AMI’s representative at Unesco is Victoria BarrÃ¨s, who frequently reports on the work of Unesco in the AMI e-Bulletin, linking the theme of the AMI’s newsletter to current Unesco projects. AMI’s connection with Unesco goes back a long time. Maria Montessori was consulted when this organisation was set up after the Second World War. The predecessor of Unesco was the
International Bureau of Education (Geneva, Switzerland) and Montessori had strong ties with that institution, from the late 1920s.
On behalf of AMI, Ms BarrÃ¨s is also active in The International Coalition for the Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. At Unesco she promotes Montessori education as a means towards a peaceful and harmonious society. AMI president is Andre Roberfroid, who has a long working history with Unicef and Executive Director is Lynne Lawrence.
The United Nations Peace Day (Sept 21) was celebrated globally by Montessori school children by lighting a candle and singing the peace song at a given time. About 35 countries, 1,200 schools and 80,000 children participated in the event.
AMI’s objectives include
Furthering the study, application, and propagation of the Montessori ideas and principles for education and human development.
Spreading knowledge and understanding of the conditions necessary for the full development of the human being from conception to maturity, both at home and in society.
Promoting general recognition of the child’s fundamental rights irrespective of racial, religious, social or political or social environment.
Cooperating with other bodies and organisations that promote the development of education, human rights, and peace.
Part of AMI’s activities are
Providing pedagogical support and guidance for AMI training courses, and set up and implement a unique programme which delivers the teacher-trainers of tomorrow.
Organising congresses and study conferences — the most recent one being held in Chennai in January 2009, when 14 delegates attended from the Pakistan Montessori Association (PMA).
Working together with Montessori Societies that have an affiliated status. In Pakistan, notably the only affiliated society is PMA, which was founded by Dr Maria Montessori and entrusted to Mrs Gool K. Minwalla.
Publishing the scholarly journal Communications and an electronic newsletter (the AMI e-Bulletin).
Maintaining the archives of Maria Montessori, assist researchers and oversee the publications of Maria Montessori’s books.
Guiding those manufacturers recognised by AMI in the production of approved Montessori materials.
Membership is open to everyone who recognises the value of AMI’s work and wishes to support it. With the help of members AMI endeavours to realise Dr Montessori’s ultimate aim to place all children in our world at the centre of society and to assist them in becoming the transforming element leading to a harmonious and peaceful humanity.
More on www.montessori-ami.org
Joke Verheul works with AMI and Masooma Alibhai with the PMA