Was it this year—or already a while ago—that Maria Montessori’s books entered the public domain? Well, I just read about it this year, and found a library scan of a weathered 1915 reprint of her 1915 lecture titled, “My System Of Education.”
“When you have solved the problem of controlling the attention of the child, you have solved the entire problem of its education.” — Maria Montessori
I then discussed the lecture with ChatGPT, and ChatGPT summarised our discussion like this:
Initially, you raised concerns about the Montessori Method potentially being abused as a method of indoctrination, due to passages referencing attention control and the reference to William James. However, as we delved deeper into the lecture, it became evident that Montessori’s approach was more about nurturing a child’s natural development rather than enforcing societal conditioning.
Furthermore, we discussed how within the Montessori framework children transition away from educational activities (using frames and colours), without showing signs of fatigue, but being carried along by new energy and a mind capable of abstraction – which is in contrast to potential negative effects like tiredness and moodiness after mobile device screen time (an analogy to frames and colours) in modern children. We also addressed challenges of how individualised learning experiences can be recreated in group settings.
Well, I don’t have a personal verdict on Maria Montessori’s teachings just yet, I’m still reading and exploring. I have volunteered in a Montessori Kindergarten several times myself, and in fact, I might discuss the topic a bit more with my mother, with whom I’ve grown up and who has been a certified Montessori teacher for decades. I feel that many of Maria Montessori’s principles can also be used in Somatic Education, and for learning in an environment of structured movement sequences that are to a part inspired by Moshé Feldenkrais.
One thing that struck me as very important is that the name Montessori is not guarded under trademarks and copyrights… unlike the term Feldenkrais, and much of the legacy of Moshé Feldenkrais, which is trademarked and copyrighted and unpublished and heavily guarded, and thus likely to forever stay removed from the public domain; and thus—ultimately and very likely—destined to be buried and forgotten.
As Maria Montessori’s 1915 lecture is in the public domain, I reckon it’s legal to share the transcript of her lecture as an ebook, for your easy reading: