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dc.contributor.authorKlaske, Elise M.
dc.descriptionThis thesis was submitted to the Department of History of the University of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for departmental honorsen_US
dc.description.abstractThe purpose of this project is to investigate to what extent Protestant nativism impeded the spread of the Montessori Method in the United States. The Montessori Method has experienced waves of popularity in America ever since it was first introduced in 1910. During the first wave of popularity, from 1910-1917, Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder, faced backlash from educators and educational philosophers for her scientific reasoning and her pedagogical and social philosophies. Some Montessori historians believe that these factors were critical in halting the spread of the Montessori Method in America in 1917. An additional theory is that Montessori’s personal identity, as an Italian Catholic woman, impeded the reception of her ideas in America. Considering that the time period was characterized by anti-Catholic rhetoric from political organizations as well as newspapers and journals, the theory makes sense.

Research for this project was conducted by examining newspaper publications that covered the Montessori Method, rebuttals of the method published by American educators, and the books and articles written by Montessori advocates. Other primary sources include Catholic publications and Dr. Montessori’s own books and writings. Secondary sources, such as autobiographies of Maria Montessori’s life and examinations of nativist activity at the beginning of the 20th Century, help paint a picture of the state of America when Dr. Montessori visited in 1913. Overall, these sources indicate that anti-Catholic sentiments played a minor role, if any, in hampering the spread of the Montessori Method.

Maria Montessori’s publicist, Samuel S. McClure, crafted a particular public image for Montessori, compatible with themes of social reform, Progressive educational reform, and feminism, which would appeal to most Americans. The creation of this public image is significant as it was a manifestation of the cultural upheaval experienced during the early 20th century and had lasting implications for Progressive education and the future of the Montessori Method in America. Supporters for the method emphasized the scientific foundation of the method, Dr. Montessori’s ideas for social reform through education, and the compatibility of the method with American ideals of individual freedom and responsibility. In the end, other factors such as leading educators’ disapproval of different aspects of the method, World War I, and Dr. Montessori’s personality led to the decline of the Montessori Method in America at that time.
dc.publisherDepartment of History, University of Kansasen_US
dc.rightsCopyright 2019, Elise M. Klaskeen_US
dc.titleThe Great Italian Educator: The Montessori Method and American Nativism in the 1910sen_US

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