Most of us attended conventional, traditional schools, either public or private. We know that system and its terminology. It’s familiar. We know the factory model given us by the Industrial Revolution.

But when we begin to explore Montessori education for our children, we encounter a new philosophy and methodology based on a vision of the nature of the child. A Vision? The nature of the child? Montessori is presented to us in an entirely new, somewhat exotic vocabulary and phraseology, an entirely unfamiliar and daunting terminology. Surely, we tell ourselves, we could grasp the intriguing and inspiring concepts that make Montessori what it is if only someone would give it to us straight, just speak to us in everyday language. Stop with the New-Agey, woo-woo lingo, please – cosmic this and absorbent that? Sensitive periods and human tendencies? Planes and cycles? Guides and prepared environments?

So from time to time, Montessorians work together to develop a way of expressing all this in the ordinary, comfortable terminology of education and child development. Much as they try, these efforts fail to capture the Montessori vision of child nature and the elements of philosophy, psychology, and practice that make Montessori so powerful and effective. The paradigm shift that is Montessori simply can’t be described in standard developmental and educational terminology. It’s of a previously unrecognized shape, of a currently unidentifiable substance – as old as first life and as new as the future. Neither new combinations of the old language nor new constructions based on it will hold Montessori. Even the recently synthesized vocabularies of today’s latest endeavors fall short.

So, here, thanks to Annette Haines, Ph.D., is the quintessential glossary of Montessori terminology, a language that contains the essence of Montessori amply, while by necessity demanding we accept eccentric vocabulary and phrasing and forcing us to think outside the box. In order to understand Montessori we are called upon to break free of outdated habits of thought about development and education of children. We are asked to open our hearts and minds to the scientific and spiritual reality of the Child before us, an everyday presence to which we have been functionally blind.

Ah, Montessori causes the blind to see!


See the Dictionary here at amiusa