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Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood

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Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of inte Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of intellectual stimulation by using the Montessori method. This is an essential handbook for parents and teachers who have chosen the Montessori alternative for the older child.


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Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of inte Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of intellectual stimulation by using the Montessori method. This is an essential handbook for parents and teachers who have chosen the Montessori alternative for the older child.

30 review for Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    How is it that I have a degree in education and I have never read anything about Montessori? I found this at the library and-- what can I say? I'm so excited about this little view into the Montessori world. At the risk of sounding a bit overheated-- I feel like a new convert! I love the idea of presenting the Whole Universe to kids and letting them move inward to micro and outward to macroscopic views-- seeing the patterns and connections. I love the idea of a moral education-- manners and "grac How is it that I have a degree in education and I have never read anything about Montessori? I found this at the library and-- what can I say? I'm so excited about this little view into the Montessori world. At the risk of sounding a bit overheated-- I feel like a new convert! I love the idea of presenting the Whole Universe to kids and letting them move inward to micro and outward to macroscopic views-- seeing the patterns and connections. I love the idea of a moral education-- manners and "grace"! I ADORE the idea of hands-on-- for every single project and concept. And Maria Montessori, the anthropologist and physician, crafts such a humane and logical format for schooling-- I wish I could go back and be reeducated ala Montessori. These ideas are so fresh (to me, been around since the 30s-- where was I??) that I am filled with optimism for an effective and humane educational model. I am sure there are flaws (aren't there in everything?) but with my new-acolyte glow, I can't wait to find out more about the Montessori methods and philosophy. Only one drawback-- there's no Montessori school on our island.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Rabon

    I read this for work. It definitely gave some more insight into the Montessori method. I know it's meant to present Montessori as a better method of teaching, but I'm not sure the vilification of traditional schooling is necessary. I went to public school K-college and I loved school. I did not experience the adverse effects they describe at all; in fact if I could go back to school and major in everything once I probably would. However, I do see some value to the Montessori method and the treat I read this for work. It definitely gave some more insight into the Montessori method. I know it's meant to present Montessori as a better method of teaching, but I'm not sure the vilification of traditional schooling is necessary. I went to public school K-college and I loved school. I did not experience the adverse effects they describe at all; in fact if I could go back to school and major in everything once I probably would. However, I do see some value to the Montessori method and the treatment of students. Working in a Montessori school, I do see that children are capable of more than they are usually given credit for. The children I work with are extremely smart and can do a lot for themselves.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    Highly recommend this book for anyone who is already a believer in Montessori but wants to better understand the curriculum for elementary age students. While some chapters talk more about the theories behind the method, Chapters 4-8 provided the specifics I was looking for in preparation for my daughter to transition to the older classroom.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yuliia

    A great overview into a Montessori school/school day. Focuses on elementary level - 6 years old to 12years old.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily Thompson

    1.5, rounded up. In short, if you're looking for an overview of the philosophy and implementation of the Montessori method of education, this book will suffice, although you could save time and money by simply just spending an hour on a tour of a Montessori school. However, if you're looking for a resource to help you decide whether Montessori is right for your children (or your career), if you're comparing the benefits and challenges of various education models, or if you're looking for an obje 1.5, rounded up. In short, if you're looking for an overview of the philosophy and implementation of the Montessori method of education, this book will suffice, although you could save time and money by simply just spending an hour on a tour of a Montessori school. However, if you're looking for a resource to help you decide whether Montessori is right for your children (or your career), if you're comparing the benefits and challenges of various education models, or if you're looking for an objective perspective whatsoever, seek your answers elsewhere. I chose this book because although I was interested in the Montessori method of education, adequate translations of Maria Montessori's original work were not available. This book received such high praise that I accepted it as a consolation prize, with the hope that an outside voice would add perspective to Montessori's philosophies. To her credit, Lillard gives a fine overview of Montessori's origin story. She dutifully describes the Montessori environment, and provides accounts of student activities, learning objectives, and classroom interactions. This is the equivalent of an encyclopedia article of Montessori's life with a virtual classroom tour. That's where the book's usefulness ends. Early on, it becomes clear that Lillard is a devoted Montessori fan, and in parts, this book drips with adulation. When confronted with the slightest inclination that a philosophy developed nearly a century ago may need slightly tweaked over time, Lillard turns to the idea that Maria Montessori was unable to finish her life's work (as if she died unexpectedly in her youth - she was 81). If others have done anything to advance Montessori's theories or adapt them for today's world, or even questioned them in the 40+ years between her death and the book's publication, Lillard does not spend much time telling us. Ironically to the title, Lillard dedicates only a chapter to the opportunities and challenges Montessori faces today (as of the publication date). There is no commentary on the gentrification or elitism that exists in the private Montessori school system. This has existed at least as long as the schools have existed in the US. Instead, Lillard focuses on the worry that increasing accessibility through the public school systems might lead to inauthentic methods. To the parent potentially interested in Montessori, and weighing the sometimes-college tuition-like costs against the future benefits, Lillard gives plenty of anecdotal evidence, but little fact. In the absence of such research - as elsewhere in the book - Lillard simply doubles down on her belief that every Montessori graduate is a model citizen; a well-adjusted, high-flying adult forever grateful for their education. In addition - and this doesn't affect my review because Lillard could have in no way predicted the way technology has transformed our society in such a short time period - but there is nothing in this book regarding the absence of technology in the Montessori classroom (although it was published at a time when even many elementary school classrooms contained computers). While Lillard provides an adequate introduction to the Montessori philosophy and environment, it leaves the totality of criticism, arguments and frankly, original thought, up to the reader.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    “Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.” From Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto recipient of a New Y “Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.” From Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto recipient of a New York State Teacher Award.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is a great read, but the title is misleading - I expected this book literally to provide a comprehensive overview of Montessori from birth to adulthood, but instead it focuses almost exclusively on the elementary grades. Nevertheless, it was a helpful primer on the Montessori pedogogy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ozy Frantz

    When I say I'm a half-assed unschooler I think what I might actually mean is that I support Montessori education. I support trusting students, autonomy, and following the child's interests, but I also believe in environment design that nudges the student towards learning academic subjects. I was struck by how difficult it would be to do a proper Montessori education in a modern school. For example, if you have high-stakes testing, you are going to be motivated to get the children to do reading c When I say I'm a half-assed unschooler I think what I might actually mean is that I support Montessori education. I support trusting students, autonomy, and following the child's interests, but I also believe in environment design that nudges the student towards learning academic subjects. I was struck by how difficult it would be to do a proper Montessori education in a modern school. For example, if you have high-stakes testing, you are going to be motivated to get the children to do reading comprehension practice problems (I remember that from my time as a Montessori student), but no student in their right mind will choose to do reading comprehension practice problems when they can instead read a book or learn about the history of cave paintings or write a poem. Montessori believed that elementary-age students should be allowed to leave the classroom to go to other parts of the school at will and to arrange their own "field trips" outside the school with a trusted adult volunteer. In this era of stranger danger, that's very difficult for a school to do. While Montessori unfortunately died before she could fully outline her vision of adolescent education, I really like what she said. The adolescents would go to a boarding school (as was common at the time) with a working farm and other businesses, which would be run by and the profits of which would go to the students. I think a lot of adolescents would be a lot happier if that was how education actually worked, although perhaps without the boarding-school element.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hella Smella

    I read this because it claimed to focus on the Montessori elementary years. I did not find it's treatment thorough. However the book does provide an accessible overview of Montessori education in it's entirety (primary to adulthood). I read this because it claimed to focus on the Montessori elementary years. I did not find it's treatment thorough. However the book does provide an accessible overview of Montessori education in it's entirety (primary to adulthood).

  10. 4 out of 5

    M

    This book aligns quite well with my training, for the most part, but, in my own Montessori journey, I'm grappling a great deal with whether training and this book align with reality. This book aligns quite well with my training, for the most part, but, in my own Montessori journey, I'm grappling a great deal with whether training and this book align with reality.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    A very gushing overview of Montessori education.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    A bit dated, but still a good read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna Fink

    Really helpful and easy read to understanding more about Montessori education.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I enjoyed this book immensely. It satisfied some of my curiosity about the Montessori approach while also giving me more exciting questions where I want to read more and see it for myself. (A good parallel to the Montessori technique of giving students just enough direct information to spark their own questions, now that I think about it.) I really like the philosophy of giving students extreme amounts of freedom to drive their own learning according to their own interests while at the same time I enjoyed this book immensely. It satisfied some of my curiosity about the Montessori approach while also giving me more exciting questions where I want to read more and see it for myself. (A good parallel to the Montessori technique of giving students just enough direct information to spark their own questions, now that I think about it.) I really like the philosophy of giving students extreme amounts of freedom to drive their own learning according to their own interests while at the same time having high expectations for behavior and learning. When executed, it seems to provide an elegant way out of the assumptions many people make that education can be rigorous OR individualized; challenging OR enjoyable. The first chapter is a light overview of Montessori's history and theory, and subsequent chapters focus on different "planes" (stages) and elements (such as the classroom environment, the elementary teacher, and freedom and responsibility) of the Montessori approach. I really liked how the most emphasis is put on the elementary classroom, and there were even chapters about Montessori education for adolescents, which contrasts with other sources I've seen which focus almost exclusively on Montessori preschool/early childhood. It was a nice surprise to even read some thoughts, lightly sketched out because Montessori didn't live long enough to flesh out her ideas there as much, about my own young adult age group. This is an educational approach which varies for children of different ages but has a coherent philosophy and plan throughout. A lot of the descriptions of Montessori classrooms, with children fully engaged in projects they chose nearly independently, sound almost too good to be true. If you aren't very experienced with Montessori, I would recommend skimming chapter 8, "Scenes from an Elementary Classroom," early, for the most thorough painting of a particular Montessori classroom, where all of those wonderful things really are happening all at once. Then you can go back and read the strategies and theories that lead to those results. Finally, I liked that the last chapter draws back again to discuss the present and future of Montessori education, especially what needs to be done to expand its use to more ages and more children - particularly in public schools - without diluting the quality of the education. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the Montessori approach to education, especially at the elementary age and older. It was a great introduction for me and I am looking forward to learning more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leah Sciabarrasi

    I read this book at the same time I was also reading the Montessori Method. Lillard did a great job at clearing up some of the misconceptions I had had about Montessori, or the general lack of knowledge. I'm not going to lie, the Montessori Method was a tough read. Towards the end, I was struggling to get through it. Lillard's book was an easy read that put things into perspective. I loved the first hand accounts of what it's like in the classroom, and the children's comments throughout the book I read this book at the same time I was also reading the Montessori Method. Lillard did a great job at clearing up some of the misconceptions I had had about Montessori, or the general lack of knowledge. I'm not going to lie, the Montessori Method was a tough read. Towards the end, I was struggling to get through it. Lillard's book was an easy read that put things into perspective. I loved the first hand accounts of what it's like in the classroom, and the children's comments throughout the book. This really helped illustrate some of the practices mentioned in the Method. My favorite chapters were last in the book and about the adult planes. Montessori had wrote a frames work about these later planes, but had dedicated her entire life to elementary education. I loved the idea of students being active members of the community and more or less finding more about themselves through finding out how they fit into a community. In one of the last chapters, a tale is told about a high school Montessori teacher that brings students out of their element for 2 weeks. They learn about agriculture and how to maintain a farm. They also learn not only about all of the processes, but the business aspects of maintaining a farm. Experiences like this just make sense to me. Good book, filled with many of perspectives. I felt it could have been a little longer, maybe because I wanted to hear more stories.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    This is a VERY comprehensive book on the Montessori Method of education. For anyone who wants a complete overview of the method as envisioned by Dr. Montessori AND also the implementation of this method, this is the book for you! I was so encouraged in reading this book. When I began studying various alternative education options for my child 2 years ago, I soon grew to develop a partiality towards the following three: The Well-Trained Mind Classical Education, the Montessori Method, and EPIC Adv This is a VERY comprehensive book on the Montessori Method of education. For anyone who wants a complete overview of the method as envisioned by Dr. Montessori AND also the implementation of this method, this is the book for you! I was so encouraged in reading this book. When I began studying various alternative education options for my child 2 years ago, I soon grew to develop a partiality towards the following three: The Well-Trained Mind Classical Education, the Montessori Method, and EPIC Adventures (courageousbeings.com). From reading this book, I gained a clearer understanding of the Montessori Method and saw how it really does align well with EPIC Adventures & Classical Education because Montessori students (at true Montessori schools) are researching topics that interest them (although guided by the teacher's presentations of the Great and Key Lessons throughout the year). And as we all know, when you are researching something you really want to be researching - that's when you really learn and enjoying learning for the sake of learning! Paula does an excellent job of outlining the entire child's education from age 3 to 24 as Dr. Montessori envisioned it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This book is a great basic overview of Dr. Montessori's theory and practice of education from birth to adulthood. It clarified a number of misconceptions for me, most notably that Montessori education was only for pre-school/kindergarten children. It also explained the existence and nature of structure in the Montessori classroom, to balance out my impression of more or less unrestricted freedom. It also warned parents potentially looking for a Montessori school to beware the misuse of the name, This book is a great basic overview of Dr. Montessori's theory and practice of education from birth to adulthood. It clarified a number of misconceptions for me, most notably that Montessori education was only for pre-school/kindergarten children. It also explained the existence and nature of structure in the Montessori classroom, to balance out my impression of more or less unrestricted freedom. It also warned parents potentially looking for a Montessori school to beware the misuse of the name, and to be aware of the possibility of variations in practice between different schools. I would have liked more detail on the specifics of how many individual things should be taught, the materials, the stories, etc. However, that is not the purpose of this book. Instead this books' purpose is a general overview, and it provides that quite well. I now need to get some more in-depth books and deepen my understanding within the framework this book provides.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I'm glad I read this book. We are involved in a Montessori community, and I wasn't sure I would get much from reading this. It was better than I expected. Lillard did a great job of explaining what happens in the elementary Montessori classroom. I now understand some of the lessons and presentations I have heard about, and I have changed how I ask my child about the works in class. This book has also been enlightening about behaviors I see. I would recommend this book if you are considering Monte I'm glad I read this book. We are involved in a Montessori community, and I wasn't sure I would get much from reading this. It was better than I expected. Lillard did a great job of explaining what happens in the elementary Montessori classroom. I now understand some of the lessons and presentations I have heard about, and I have changed how I ask my child about the works in class. This book has also been enlightening about behaviors I see. I would recommend this book if you are considering Montessori education for your child or if you have children.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marj

    I believe that children can take in a lot more than I used to think. Reading this book and I assume if I read any other Montessori book will reaffirm that children are more capable then I have given them credit for. My thought is, who am I to limit what my child is capable of doing/learning. Just because I felt limitations as a youth does not mean that my children will. If I do not put up barriers and strict obligations my children should be able to let their intelligence unfold naturally.

  20. 4 out of 5

    reading is my hustle

    Informative and clear accounting of the Montessori method of education. Contrasts Montessori method with traditional public education. Examples provided throughout. Perfect for those wanting overview but probably best to read Marie Montessori's books. All three of our children have attended Montessori schools (#2 & #3 still do) and I love that they get to GO DEEP in their academic pursuits. As traditional schools move from curriculum based to skill based so much is lost. Informative and clear accounting of the Montessori method of education. Contrasts Montessori method with traditional public education. Examples provided throughout. Perfect for those wanting overview but probably best to read Marie Montessori's books. All three of our children have attended Montessori schools (#2 & #3 still do) and I love that they get to GO DEEP in their academic pursuits. As traditional schools move from curriculum based to skill based so much is lost.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Good overview of the Montessori approach and methods (since I can't yet work myself up to read Montessori's own writing). Things I like: the idea of the five great lessons and showing the child the whole world; encouraging student interaction with the community as part of learning; multiple years with the same teacher = no rush to learn to x in year y. Good overview of the Montessori approach and methods (since I can't yet work myself up to read Montessori's own writing). Things I like: the idea of the five great lessons and showing the child the whole world; encouraging student interaction with the community as part of learning; multiple years with the same teacher = no rush to learn to x in year y.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Reading this for my montessori moms book club; I'd recommend for parents with kids currently in or considering enrollment in an AMS or AMI montessori school in primary-elementary as it focuses most on these age groups. This book clarified some of the philosophy and will help me better describe our experience. Reading this for my montessori moms book club; I'd recommend for parents with kids currently in or considering enrollment in an AMS or AMI montessori school in primary-elementary as it focuses most on these age groups. This book clarified some of the philosophy and will help me better describe our experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Reads like a long advertisement for Montessori's method of education. it is informative in the most general sense but definitely not the book you want to read if you are looking for an in depth exploration of her teaching principles, techniques, or even how her methods are viewed by the education establishment or experts in the fields of child development or child psychology. Reads like a long advertisement for Montessori's method of education. it is informative in the most general sense but definitely not the book you want to read if you are looking for an in depth exploration of her teaching principles, techniques, or even how her methods are viewed by the education establishment or experts in the fields of child development or child psychology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book is well written and informative, but I was finding (oddly enough) that there was a lot of crossover with what had made sense to me about classical education. Most of the additional benefits of a Montessori education are related to the running of a classroom, but are also attainable in a homeschool setting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Excellent basic reference on the goals and methodology of Montessori educational philosophy. Not a whole lot of meat, but from my research, it seems to be one of the only books out there with broad-brushed treatment of its subject.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I LOVE Maria Montessori's approach to education. Children are really respected and raised to be independent thinkers. Lots of cool theories and well-developed, practical approaches to education in this book. Good for activities for young kids too for at-home educators and covers the whole spectrum. I LOVE Maria Montessori's approach to education. Children are really respected and raised to be independent thinkers. Lots of cool theories and well-developed, practical approaches to education in this book. Good for activities for young kids too for at-home educators and covers the whole spectrum.

  27. 5 out of 5

    stacy

    A great book for anyone looking for a overview of the elementary approach to a Montessori education. A good balance of factual information and anectodes and observations of the approach in action in a Montessori school. Easy to read. Highly recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Duke

    I was looking for something that would show me what Montessori education looks like in the elementary years. Since this book covers birth through adulthood, it was a good choice. (Six of the ten chapters deal specifically with the elementary years.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This gives an awesome and readable overview of the elementary curriculum of the Montessori program. Excellent for parents of children enrolled in Montessori education.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    a nice intro to what makes Montessori special and relevant. at times, the author is way too indulgent, but a good read nonetheless.

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