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Fact Sheet. A Short History of The Montessori Foundation. By Tim Seldin, MA. We decided to organize the Montessori Foundation back in 1991 to respond to a.
Fact Sheet A Short History of The Montessori Foundation By Tim Seldin, MA We decided to organize the Montessori Foundation back in 1991 to respond to a persistent need in the Montessori community. From the beginning, parents have had so many questions, and schools have always found it difficult to address them in a way that they seem to hear and accept. There is an implied conflict of interest between Montessori schools, because the schools obviously hope to persuade parents to stay, and parents who grew up another way, want facts and reassurance about Montessori from a more objective source. Originally my thought was to publish a parents' magazine within the American Montessori Society (AMS), which was and is the most active of the teacher certification Montessori organizations in the US. Unfortunately, we concluded that the cost of mounting a journal simply for the parents of AMS schools was financially unviable due to the expense of production for an audience far too small to be considered attractive to professional magazine people or to national advertisers. AMS had for years published occasional booklets or included articles in their magazine, which was primarily aimed at teachers and school administrators. NAMTA, NCME and the Montessori Centre International have done the same for years. Aline Wolf has of course published her Parents’ Guide To The Montessori Classroom since the early 1970s. But for the most part, schools have consistently commented that most parents don't “get it” and that the majority of parents leave either before or right after kindergarten, having never really understood or supported authentic Montessori practice and insights into education or child rearing. In fact, to this day, the two great challenges facing most Montessori schools is the need to find enough parents who really understand and support Montessori education for the right reasons, as well as finding enough well trained and dedicated Montessori teachers. My sense back when we were beginning was that parents would respond better to an ongoing periodical, than to one or two parent education booklets that they receive when they first enroll. We also realized that, even though AMS was the largest of the existing Montessori societies, its membership reflects about 20 percent of the Montessori schools in the US, and that, even considering the number of schools that are affiliated with AMI or one of the other Montessori organizations in the US, the majority of Montessori schools continue to be independent. They do not affiliate with any Montessori organization.

This seems to stem from the practical reality to hire teachers not from one teacher education body, like AMS or AMI, but from wherever good people can be found. Unfortunately, it has also left most Montessori schools working alone, rather than in partnership with the other schools in their community and state. Having been so active in the leadership of AMS for many years, the schools that I knew and worked with were all part of that organization. This gave me, at least, the impression that all of the “Montessori schools that mattered” belonged to the same club as me. As my horizon broadened, I realized how inaccurate my perception had been, and that more schools every year were becoming a mix of many Montessori teacher education traditions, and as a result, more and more inclined to become and remain independent. The Montessori Foundation grew out of the sense, shared by several of us, that an independent organization designed to encourage and support every Montessori school, regardless of affiliation, would fill a need. At the same time, we decided to build the Montessori Foundation as a resource center and source of advice and assistance for parents who were either interested in Montessori, or who had children enrolled in Montessori schools. Our principle programs and services evolved to include: •

Tomorrow’s Child, the journal for Montessori parents, which goes out to every Montessori school that we know of in the United States and Canada, as well as to about 30,000 subscribers, many of whom receive it through their children's schools. Our annual reader surveys and focus groups show that most copies are passed from hand to hand, and kept indefinitely, being eventually read by more than five different readers who live all over the English speaking world.

Montessori On-line (www.montessori.org) with its online library of articles, discussion groups, forums, and school directory. Statistics show that since we mounted it in 1995 it has remained among the top three most visited Montessori websites out of the more than 50,000 Montessori websites on the Internet today.

Our Montessori Helpline (800-655-5843) where parents (or schools) can call for advice and counsel on any issue connected to Montessori at home or school.

The Montessori Bookshelf, our publications center (online and live out of Sarasota, Florida) with hundreds of specialized and often hard to find resources for parents, teachers and school administrators.

The Montessori Academy for Peace, which sponsors our annual conferences for Montessori educators, parents and older students (The next one will be Nov. 3-6 in Clearwater, Florida).

and the Center For Partnership Education, which reaches out to schools, teachers, and homeschooling families who are committed to child-centered and empowering approaches that are similar to Montessori, such as Waldorf, Democratic, Quaker, Partnership (a term coined by Riane Eisler) and other alternative schools which place children, and not test scores, at the center.

The Montessori Foundation does much more, most of which is directly aimed at the leaders of Montessori schools. Ultimately, out of our wish to remain independent of the teacher certification bodies that once defined the divisions within the Montessori community, we responded to the wishes of friends of the Foundation by forming a separate umbrella membership organization, The International Montessori Council (IMC). Since that time, the IMC has embarked on another journey in response to a need unmet by the major teacher-certification groups. In order to foster and develop technologically sophisticated educational methodologies in response to the desperate shortage of qualified Montessori educators worldwide, IMC has begun a procedure for the recognition of teacher education programs (TEPs). This initiative is intended not to replace or compete with existing teacher education programs—most of which produce highly qualified Montessori educators, but rather to fill a gap that no other group has sought to address. Still fairly young, the IMC represents several hundred Montessori schools and individual members in more than 40 countries around the world. Since its inception it has accredited it has accredited four schools in three countries, and about 30 more are already working through the process. Through the work of the Montessori Foundation and its membership organization, The International Montessori Council, we hope to contribute our part to fulfill the recognition of Dr. Montessori that “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” Tim Seldin President, The Montessori Foundation Chair, The International Montessori Council 1001 Bern Creek Loop, Sarasota, FL 34240 USA Phone (941) 379-6626 • Fax (941) 379-6671 http://www.montessori.org • [email protected]