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Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  42 reviews
One hundred years ago, Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy, devised a very different method of educating children, based on her observations of how they naturally learn. In Montessori, Angeline Stoll Lillard shows that science has finally caught up with Maria Montessori. Lillard presents the research behind eight insights that are foundations of Montessor ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2005)
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I read this in consideration of using the Montessori method to homeschool my daughter in a few years.

I appreciated the balanced tone of the book, both giving a history of the American school system and the place in which the Montessori philosophy of education diverges. It included numerous citations of scientific studies which support the Montessori method. What I especially appreciated was that there did not appear to be an attempt to "pad" the data. If there was not a study to support somethi
Did you know if you pay kids to color with markers, later they will color less than other kids?! Same is true if you require them to color a certain amount.

Good collection of educational research, but the purpose is only to show how good the Montessori method is, so the research is a bit lop-sided.
The best psychological studies just confirm what we inherently understand. Today we are so focused on "research" that we often lose sight of the overall picture. This book offers an extensive compilation of research that is based in the wisdom of Maria Montessori. No study can replace the overall understanding that she had of children through working with them on a daily basis. However, when compiled they present an overwhelming case for the accuracy of her theories.

While this is a review for t
May 24, 2007 Shani rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in education
I probably should give this book more than 3 stars, it is deserving of more, I think I didn't give it more because it presented, to me at least, a lot of information I already knew.

What was new to me was the presentation of the evolution of the current education system. What the author says about how schools, "traditional schools" are taught and why there is so much room for improvement, is right-on-the-money.

We are a country so unwillingly to accept unconventional educational methods, yet are
I found this book to be an interesting overview of the learning and cognition research related to Montessori pedagogy. Unfortunately, I think I really needed to read some of Montessori's original writings first since the book didn't really go into her pedagogy deeply enough for me to really know if the research cited was relevant to Montessori. Also, the author's frequent disparagement of "traditional public school" pedagogy and process was off-putting and, at times, irrelevant. It was clearly a ...more
Paul Gier
If you want to know the solution to our current problems in education read this book. The Montessori method is equal to or superior to traditional education in every way. In addition, Montessori works best with large class sizes (~30 students per teacher), no standardized testing, and no homework. Almost the exact opposite of what is happening with "No Child Left Behind". Students attending a Montessori school through elementary school performed better than an equivalent sample of students who a ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Sarah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I've only read snippets from this book, and even that pretty much has me convinced that the current model of majority of our public schools (modeled after factory life and based on behaviorism) discourages life long learning. I'm not entirely sure that Montessori is *the* answer, but it's pretty obvious that the current public school system needs a complete overhaul, and political initiatives like No Child Left Behind are steps in the wrong direction. But I have to admit that I'm already complet ...more
Beth Williams
Hands down THE BEST review of the studies out there looking at how children learn and how Montessori measures up. I only wish I had read it years ago when my kids first began montessori school, as I am only now truly beginning to appreciate the gift we stumbled upon. This author did her due dilligence and is very fair in presenting the studies. A very well done book. Very readable, full of good information.
Jeremy Gollehon
Jan 29, 2012 Jeremy Gollehon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heidi Appleton
Shelves: read-parenting
This is an amazingly detailed review of Montessori education. It frames the 50+ years of practical insights formed by Maria Montessori against the psychology-of-learning studies done over the last few decades. It's amazing how often a technique chosen by Montessori is proven affective, even though it is massively against the norm, years later.
Hands down best book that backs up Montessori's observations using modern day science and modern research. Cannot recommend this book enough. I dog-eared nearly every page.
Excellent book. All 3 of my children have thrived in Montessori from toddlers to upper elementary. This book explains the method and the science. Follow the child.
Lillard sets out to present the empirical evidence for the Montessori Method. Using research of Montessori directly and psychological research more generally, she explains both the Montessori theory and how the evidence supports much of what goes on in a Montessori classroom. The breadth of evidence that supports many of the key claims of Montessori is impressive and worth a serious look by anyone interested in Montessori or educational philosophy in general.

Another important aspect of the book
Montessori didn't really elaborate a theory of education - she focused on practice - another reason to love her. Anyway, this author amasses an impressive list of empirical studies that support the fundamental insights underlying the Montessori method -- that cognition is connected to movement; that you learn best by doing (doing something yourself or teaching it to others); that children learn a great deal from their peers, and especially from children who are just older or a bit more skilled t ...more
This book was definitely textbooky, and the authors overuse of the words "interesting" and "fascinating" annoyed me to no end. That being said, this book is a wonderful review of current research supporting the Montessori Method. The author presents each chapter with a review of child development, current research that supports that aspect of the Montessori method, and a review of practices in the Montessori classroom. One of the best aspects of this book is that you don't need to know anything ...more
A great insight into the Montessori education system which was developed by a physician and educator by observing children for over 50 years. The system is a based on principles that children are able to construct knowledge, learn effectively through action, choice, interest, intrinsic rewards, peer collaboration and meaningful contexts. It is a huge contrast to the current "traditional" system that operates in the factory model using techniques that assume children are no more than empty vessel ...more
Mark Flowers
Lillard has pretty well convinced me that traditional schooling does its best to ignore pretty much all of the current research about child development and how children learn. She's also convinced me that Maria Montessori was an incredibly impressive woman - having figured out a lot of stuff that wasn't experimentally proven until almost a century later. I'm less convinced that Montessori schooling is the One Right Answer to the schooling problem. Next up: Waldorf.
Christine Turner
An answer to the crisis in education -- The impact of movement on learning and cognition -- Choice and perceived control -- Interest in human learning -- Extrinsic rewards and motivation -- Learning from peers -- Meaningful contexts for learning -- Adult interaction styles and child outcomes -- Order in environment and mind -- Education for children.
I wanted more citations from this book regarding research that supports Montessori practices. Again and again Lillard points out interesting avenues for research, but much of the research was cited repeatedly and some of it was done quite a long time ago. Overall the book had a good discussion of Montessori techniques and materials, but I wanted more!
Aug 30, 2011 Bess is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Love this book so far. Always was intrigued by this system but absolutely won over by the clear and grounded presentation of historical and current research about education, developemtn, motivation, and how learning happens best. Considering if this system may be adequatly applied in the home environment with Bo, at least for preschool....
The book seems to belabor one point repeatedly: Behaviorism bad. Constructivism good.

It is as heavy in psychology as the title might suggest, but I think it's a good read for those of us who prefer to teach in non-traditional settings. It does make me wonder how "gifted" kids fare in a Montessori classroom, though.
So far this book is very well written. It is extremely informative and well research (the bibliography is excellent and great for further reading) yet written in a way that is easy to pick up and put down. If you are wondering about Maria Montessori and her methods I highly recommend this book!
The research here is very impressive, if not a little on the dense side. This is not a book to digest in one gulp -- takes some careful reading but worth it. It's amazing what Montessori figured out 100 years ago that education philosophy is only now beginning to consider.
Really enjoyed how the author started with research on how children learn and pointed out convergence with Montessori practices. I particularly liked the fact that not all studies were on the Montessori system itself but on how children learn and function best.
This book outlines the most up-to-date child development research on learning and how the Montessori educational method stands up to current research. This book is a great resource for ideas about parenting, early childhood education, and child development.
Excellent book that integrates the Montessori Method with scientific studies that correspond the the ideas that Montessori espouses. It also gives many ideas for areas where studies should be done. I enjoyed it.
Roslyn Ross
Very interesting and useful. A little dry but that's fine. I love hearing about all the studies and I am a huge fan of Montessori but I wish this book weren't so one-sided.
Thoughts as I am reading; I'm finding it incredibly informative and makes me want to find out more about Dr Maria Montessori. However the writhing style slightly obtuse.
Very academic but a great in-depth book that clearly answers the question "Why Montessori?" I highly recommend it but know that it is research-based. So so so very good.
Not an easy read--a little technical but definitely worth the time for anyone interested in Montessori education, current brain research, and young children.
the beginning is extremely interesting (where it compares traditional education to montessori). a good read for anyone considering montessori.
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Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

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