Montessori’s Global Spread

Explore how Montessori’s global spread influenced its evolution

Dr Maria Montessori defined the goal of the Montessori pedagogy as “the development of a complete human being, oriented to the environment, and adapted to his or her time, place and culture” (Lillard, p. 3). She developed the Montessori methods in the slums of Rome and diligently spread it around the world. She travelled all over the globe as a distinguished lecturer and a strong advocate of women’s rights. She took exile in various countries during the two world wars promoting the Montessori pedagogy. Educators trained by Dr. Montessori during her exile adopted the method to their respective cultures and proved that human development is the same no matter which country you live in. As educators observed the positive impact of Montessori teaching it soon became popular on every continent of the globe.  The Montessori method provides students with unstructured play that is also missing in traditional schooling (Boulmier, p. 42). Maria Montessori. The Montessori classrooms used the materials that were uniform across the globe with an intention to prepare global citizens.

Montessori schools were operational in the US since 1911. In their article called “Montessori and the Mainstream: A Century of Reform on the Margins” Keith Whitescarver and Jacqueline Cossentino, introduced the method in the US. Soon after that they became unpopular. There was a rebirth of Montessori schools around 1960 but still the growth was very slow. McClure was able to convince Dr. Montessori to travel to the US to teach the Montessori method and expand it popularity. She soon had many followers who advocated the method. One of them was Dorothy Canfield Fisher, a best-selling author and great supporter of the Montessori method emphasized the faults of modern education and stressed the idea of “’Dr. Montessori to the rescue’” (Whitescarver and Cossentino, p. 2576). By 1913 there were many Montessori schools in the US but soon after that there was a lot of negative criticism that let to decline of interest in Montessori schools. One of the critics was William Heard Kilpatrick  who said “ I am reasonably sure that we cannot use it [the Montessori method] thus so in America. I do not object to the notion of the liberty, in fact that seems very good. [But] the sense of training seems to be carried too far and to include some indefensible areas. (Beineke, 1998, p. 67)” (Shortridge, 44). In 1960 Nancy McCormick Rambusch studied Montessori method in college and revived the method. She contributed to revival of Montessori education in the United States. Today there are more than 5000 Montessori schools in the US and they are highly regarded by educators and parents.

Timeline of Global Spread of Montessori Pedagogy

1911 The Montessori method is already being put into practice in English and Argentinean schools and is beginning to be introduced into Italian and Swiss primary schools.

Model schools set up in Paris, New York, and Boston.


1912 The English version of Il Metodo appears in the U.S. in an edition of 5,000 copies under the title The Montessori Method.


1913 Runs the First International Training Course in her apartment in Rome, under the patronage of Italy’s Queen Margherita. Students come from Italy and other European countries, Australia, South Africa, India, China, the Philippines, the United States, and Canada.

Montessori Educational Association founded in the United States. Its membership includes Alexander Graham Bell, his wife, Mabel Bell, S.S. McClure, and President Wilson’s daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson.

Maria Montessori’s First trip to the United States.





Montessori’s third book, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, is published in New York.





Second trip to the United States, accompanied by her son, Mario. Addresses International Kindergarten Union and National Educational Association (NEA), and runs a training course, the Third International Course.

At the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, a Montessori class works in a glass pavilion observed by visitors.

Dr Montessori’s NEA lectures are published in New York: My System of Education, The Organization of Intellectual Work in School, Education in Relation to the Imagination of the Little Child, and The Mother and the Child



Moves to Barcelona at the invitation of the city government;

Fourth International Training Course in Barcelona.

Her fourth book appears, L’autoeducazione nelle Scuole Elementari (English title: The Advanced Montessori Method).




Training course in London using the format that would become standard: fifty hours of lectures, fifty hours of teaching using the materials, fifty hours of observation of Montessori classes.





Publication of I bambini viventi nella Chiesa in Naples

First Children’s House in Vienna set up by Lili Roubiczek.


1926 Visits Argentina.

Speaks on “Education and Peace” at the League of Nations in Geneva.





Presented at the English court.

Visits schools in Ireland for the first time

1929 First International Montessori Congress in Helsingør, Denmark.

In conjunction with her son, Mario, founds the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), with headquarters in Berlin (until 1935; after that in Amsterdam).




Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement, visits Montessori schools in Rome


Second International Montessori Congress in Nice, France. Montessori delivers lecture Peace and Education, published by the International Bureau of Education, Geneva.


Third International Montessori Congress in Amsterdam


Fourth International Montessori Congress in Rome


Fifth International Montessori Congress in Oxford, England; development of further principles of Montessori education for Elementary (Cosmic Education) and for secondary schools


Sixth International Montessori Congress in Copenhagen; the theme is “Educate for Peace.” Montessori delivers several lectures later collected in Education and Peace


Seventh International Montessori Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland
1939 Departs for India with Mario to run what was to be a three-month training course at the invitation of the Theosophical Society, which has been using the Montessori method to successfully combat illiteracy.




Training courses in Madras, Kodaikanal, Karachi, and Ahmedabad in India, and in Ceylon.


1941-1942 The Child (1941) and Reconstruction in Education (1942) published in India.
1946 Training course in London; visit to Scotland.

Education for a New World published in India.

1947 Maria and Mario Montessori establish a Montessori Centre in London.

Return to India to give a training course in Adyar.

1948 Trip to Gwalior, India; supervises the opening of a model school up to age twelve.

Visit to the Montessori training centre with model school in Colombo (Ceylon).

The Discovery of the Child, To Educate the Human Potential, What You Should Know about Your Child, and Child Training published in Madras, India



First nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize

Eighth International Montessori Congress in San Remo, Italy.

1950 Speaks at the General Conference of UNESCO in Florence.

International conference in Amsterdam in honor of Maria Montessori’s 80th birthday.



Ninth International Montessori Congress in London.

Last training course run by Maria Montessori held in Innsbruck, Austria.




Bianca, A. (2014, May 2). The Montessori Method and its Journey to Acceptance – Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present

Williams, K. (2017, October 27). Montessori education around the world – Maria Montessori School. Maria Montessori School.

Timeline of Maria Montessori’s life | Montessori 150. (n.d.).

Boulmier, Prairie. “Looking at How Children Succeed, Through the Montessori Lens”. (2014).

Lillard, Paula P. Montessori Today. New York: Shocken Books Inc., (1996). Print.



Shortridge, P. Donohue. “Maria Montessori And Educational Forces In America.”

Montessori Life 19.1 (2007): 34-47. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web.

Whitescarver, Keith, and Jacqueline Cossentino. “Montessori and the Mainstream: A

Century of Reform on the Margins.” The Teachers College Record 110.12 (2008): 2571-2600.