montessori integrative learning

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was born in 1870. Throughout her early years she wanted to be a medical doctor, claiming she would never be a teacher. After focusing on the sciences and engineering during her secondary years she decided to enter Medical school. Turned away by the establishment she persisted until she gained entry.

Her initial work was with mentally challenged children in a psychiatric ward. Through her observations she determined that they were sensorially-deprived so she extended the ideas of Seguin and Itard by providing materials for the children to manipulate. In time, these hospitalized children learned to read and write at advanced levels. Her work gained world-wide attention.

In 1907 she opened the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) in Rome Italy, where slum children were enrolled in order to remove them from the streets. Her experimental work produced miraculous results with children using concrete materials and blossoming into abstract learning — far beyond their years. It was a process based on observation of the child followed by the child’s self-education in a prepared environment.

As her insights concerning human development expanded, she became an outspoken activist for equal rights for women.

By the early 30s she was speaking to huge congresses about the nature of a peaceful society that could only emerge from a fundamental shift in the way we educate children.

And in the 1940s, with her son Mario Montessori at her side, she became convinced that every child needs to be immersed in the Story of the Universe as the largest context for living life in an interdependent “cosmic” world.

By the time of her death in 1952 she had developed a comprehensive framework for revolutionizing education — very far from the mainstream of conventional, governmental schooling. Instead of indoctrinating young people to become citizens of a nation her aim was to liberate the child from the entrapment of the adult in order to create a new and harmonious civilization.



Academic Dean and TIES co-founder Philip Snow Gang shares his insights into “Sacred Montessori”.

Adolescents as Guides

Adolescents as Guides

Mentors and apprentices are partners in an ancient human dance, and one of teaching’s great rewards is the daily chance it gives us to get back on the dance floor. It is the dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, reweaving the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn.


Parker Palmer

We live in turbulent times…

Climate change, political divisions, inequality. I look at the news and even in my family over the past few years and see how divisions in beliefs can put us in opposition to one another.

But when I walk into my adolescent classroom and I see an alternative I am always amazed at what I learn from my students. This may sound hard to believe.  Adolescence is known by most as a time of turbulence and unease. However, it is also a period of great potential and creativity as young people move towards independence.

It has been said that humanity is in its adolescent phase…

…and much like an adolescent, searching outward to others to explain what should change. What if we looked at adolescents to guide us through this time of unease with creativity? In what ways might a glimpse into the adolescent brain provide insight about how to move forward?

The adolescent brain is undergoing the largest changes in structure and function since those that occur in the first three years of life. But their brains do not grow by getting bigger. Rather they become more interconnected. The brain strengthens its connectivity to the regions used most frequently and prunes away those that are no longer useful.

Adolescents Give us Hope for Change

The part of the brain that is maturing most is the pre-frontal cortex–the region used to contemplate, and reflect on one’s self, and govern social cognition. Another notable feature of the teen brain is its ability to change. It is the brain’s plasticity that allows it to adapt and change. Just as this plasticity allows teens to craft their own identity, it could also be the key to humans doing the same.

I had a mentor in my life who told me, “you can only take a child as far as you are willing to go.” To me, adolescents offer us this invitation to join them.  Interconnection, contemplation and reflection, and adaptability may be the tools needed in this dance between mentor and apprentice. Switching roles throughout the dance we can allow these young people in transition to guide us through our own.

Please join me in November for our online adolescent symposium – an opportunity for the education community to dialogue about engaging in the transformative dance with adolescents.

Julie Haagenson, TIES Faculty

Adolescent Symposium

November 16-24

A Traveling Montessori Workshop

A Traveling Montessori Workshop

Montessori: The Essence

A traveling workshop with Dr. Gang.

Dr. Philip Snow Gang, TIES’ founder and director is journeying to Europe where he is facilitating his workshop Montessori: The Essence in Prague and Oslo. This workshop is participatory and dialogue based. In introducing the material, Dr. Gang shares his experience speaking directly with Mario Montessori Sr. at the International Study Conference.

So, if you would like to attend one of the pre-scheduled events, please check out the workshop page. And, if you are interested in hosting this Montessori workshop in your area, please contact Philip directly.

One participant writes:

When I get caught up in daily details, it is the essence of Montessori which routes me back to ensure [her] vision for the child, for humanity and for the future. Participating in Dr. Gang’s symposium solidified my understanding of Montessori’s work and our work with young people. The essence of Montessori’s principles is not only for the development of the child; the essence also applies to the development of the adult. Attending this event is a treasure that will last a lifetime.

~Claudia, President of CAMT

To summarize his lifelong journey in education, Dr. Gang presents a question:

What contexts and processes in education might liberate teachers and learners so that they become catalysts for the new human — one whose integral relationship with Gaia is bound by right-action and love?

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