Cultural Model

  1. Philosophy of Science
  2. Educational Theory
  3. Terms
  4. Current Practice

Work Models

  1. Flow Model
  2. Sequence Model
  3. Artifact Model
  4. Cultural Model
  5. Physical Model
  6. Metaphors


  1. Design Problem
  2. Literature Review
  3. Work Models
  4. Design Patterns
  5. Design Experiments
  6. Lesson Ideas
  7. Montessori Computes
  8. Thinking About Circles

Related Links

Patterns and Design


Under Construction I am not very organized or methodical in my reading. Web pages seem like a good way to keep track of the various threads I'm pursuing so I can find my way back to the main one--I'm trying to understand the context in which Montessori worked, so I can better understand what she wrote and where she got her ideas. To keep track of my reading, I write down quotes I find interesting and add thoughts in brackets as they occur to me. My goal is to one day have more notes than quotes on these pages, and maybe even develop something coherent and interesting. Until then, the "under construction" icon will remain as a warning for those who might mistakenly think there's something readable on these pages.


[Need clear definitions of Montessori terms. As starting point, can use Annette Haines's dictionary ( Also need to add terms like normal, fugue, engram, Mneme, spiritual embryo, what else?]

[Look for dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks from the 1890s to look up definitions of word like "psychic", "psychical", "normalization", etc.]

[Freud's used the term "psychic" (also translated as "psychical") to mean "having to do with the psyche" as in "psychic apparatus" (composed of id, ego and super-ego), "psychic determinism", "psychic energy", and "psychic structure".]

[Granville Stanley Hall, psychic transformation: Of all the changes normal at adolescence, none are more comprehensive and perhaps none are now more typical of the psychic transformation of this age than those that occur in the attitude toward the various aspects of nature. Before, these are naively learned, pragmatically accepted, and animistically interpreted... But when... the springs of a maturer mental life flow, the old world begins to seem strange and new. What things seems is not all of them, but there is something more behind and other meanings strive to reveal themselves." (Hall, p. 144).]

[The terms engram and Mneme were coined by Semon. Jung originated the term horme, which can be compared to Freud's libido or Bergson's elan vitale]

Annette Haine's Glossary of Montessori Terms may be helpful to readers who are new to Montessori. It is worth taking some time to consider Montessori's terms in-depth in order to understand clearly what she said. Montessori's writings contain a number of terms and references to events that were particular to her era. She also borrowed terminology from other theorists and gave them new meaning by using them in the context of her own work (Montessori, Mario M., 1976, page 4). Most of her works were based on notes taken by a students of hers and later translated by followers who were not professional translators.

With regard to translation issues, Susan Feez provides a fascinating analysis of Montessorian's use of the word directress, which is now commonly used instead of the word teacher in Montessori classrooms and why the word guide is increasingly used instead:

The translator, Anne George, used the word directress to translate the Italian word direttoressa. By the 1930s, when Montessori had extended her curriculum to include older children, she seems to have used the more general term maestra in her lectures (See, for example, Montessori 1989 [1979/1930">, p. 7). Nevertheless, a teacher in a Montessori preschool class is still today often called the directress (or director) and the continued use of this term in English-speaking Montessori schools worldwide is an illustration of the problems of translation that bedevil the Montessori movement. The meaning of the Italian word direttore is less about telling people what to do, and more about steering people in the right direction. The word is used for conductors and editors, as well as for managers. When English-speaking Montessori teachers use the term, it still has the valeur of its original Italian use, but to English-speakers outside the movement, the word can seem harsh when referring to someone who works with small children. To overcome this problem, and at the same time to avoid the outdated feminine suffix, some American Montessori schools call their teachers guides. (Feez, 2007, pp. 42-43).

Montessori also used terms from other human sciences to lend credence to her ideas. For example, she used the terms élan vital from Bergson, engram and Mneme from Semon and horme from Jung. Montessori was introduced to the concepts of mneme and horme by Thomas Percy Nunn (Nunn, 1920). It would be interesting to compare Montessori's use of these terms with that of their originators.

It might also be useful to look further into the term(s) psychic/psychical/spiritual hygiene. These terms could be compared, for example, with Clifford Beer's idea of "mental hygiene" and Viktor Frankl's use of the terms "psychic hygiene" and "psychological hygiene." It seems that the idea of associating hygiene with the mind was already around in Italy before Montessori wrote her books judging by her writings and that fact that she was Professor of Anthropology and Hygienics for a time at the University of Rome (Montessori, Mario M., 1976, page 4).

Finally, it would be helpful to relate Montessori's terms to those currently in use. For example, Montessori's idea of polarization of attention is similar to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's idea of flow (Rathunde, 2001).