Editorials and columns in our state papers have been abundant regarding education. I am grateful for the attention given to both, and I am grateful that in my 9th decade of life I am able to read and understand them.
Sometimes people ask me what it is like to be 'past 90', I say that I'm not sure, but for me it is like seeing things from the beginning, middle, and possibly the end.
I learned the word Montessori perhaps 65 years ago.
I read a remarkable article about a young Italian woman who was the first to be accepted for Medical training in her country.
She was the only woman in the class, but was limited in participation. It was, for example forbidden to a woman and man to be together in a room with a naked corpse of the opposite sex.
As a consequence, she had to do her research on corpses alone, at night, after classes. There were many other cultural limitations, but she was keen to succeed and she did.
At some point in her career, Dr. Montessori became interested in the problems of underprivileged children. She decided that the underprivileged would be facing difficulties even if access to schools that other children attended were available because their background did not prepare them to succeed. So she devised a method of teaching that would allow students to eventually join the normal schools and not be left behind.
As I understood it, these were eventually called Montessori schools and did in fact succeed in achieving the goals Dr. Montessori had set for them.
When I see anything written about Montessori schools and students, now, I think of her and her plans and wonder how that beginning fit into the history of the schools.
I write in the hope that others can fill the gaps I have not remembered or learned: When, why and how did schools named for her become schools of the elite? Can her system help our struggling dilemmas about public education contribute to restructuring and improvements today?
Sister Mary Pellicane