Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)
The term “Montessori” was never trademarked; any school can claim to make use of the educational method. Two main groups train teachers and accredit schools in the United States: the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), founded by Dr. Montessori herself and directed from the Netherlands (with a national branch office in Rochester, New York), and the American Montessori Society (AMS), headquartered in New York City.
AMI teacher training is rigorous: the course requires either a full academic year or three summers, and culminates in the inspection of student-written teaching albums and several days of oral and written exams. AMI offers diplomas for Assistants to Infancy and for Primary and Elementary teachers; only a limited number complete the training each year, and are in high demand around the country and the world.
Post Oak demonstrates its commitment to its AMI heritage through the training of its faculty and staff.
Our head of school and academic division directors are all AMI trained. Twenty-one of twenty-nine lead teachers in Young Children's Community, Primary, Elementary, Middle School, and High School have AMI credentials for at least one level; and as we look to the development of future faculty, many of our classroom assistants are currently enrolled in AMI training courses or have earned their AMI credential. Post Oak has also made an extraordinary commitment to AMI teacher training, housing the Houston Montessori Institute (HMI), which trains Montessori primary teachers under the auspices of AMI.
Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman physician and one of the great educators of the twentieth century, pioneered the work with children that we carry on today at The Post Oak School. She was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870. Her first association with children began in 1898 with the mentally deficient at the University Psychiatric Clinic in Rome. Through intense study, observations, and long days of working with these children, she discovered their problems were more emotional than medical so she designed special learning materials to meet their needs and trained teachers to present them in a special way. Montessori’s success was proclaimed miraculous. Many of these children went on to pass, or even excel at, conventional state examinations.
In 1904 she turned her attention to children without educational challenges. She opened her first school, Casa dei Bambini (House of Children) on January 6, 1907, in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome. Word of this successful “new education” began to spread, and many more schools were opened in Italy and other countries.
In half a century, her work became known as the Montessori Method. In 1929, she founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to continue her work. During the war years, it was regarded as a movement for world peace. Indeed, she saw the child as the most legitimate hope for a new world. Honorary doctorates, recognition, and awards were bestowed on her from countries all over the world. By the time of her death in 1952, she had gained an international reputation as an educator and had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
Montessori fervently believed that children have an inner force that gives them the power and drive to achieve their full potential. When children are given the proper measures of guidance and freedom, this inner force enables them to focus on what they need to know, and they learn with wonder, joy, and confidence.
A vital part of the Montessori approach is a carefully prepared environment that is beautiful and orderly. It includes learning materials designed to meet the needs of each child at her/his particular level of development. Through skilled observation, the adult is prepared to offer children the kind of instruction that will stimulate their interest and activity.
The special relationship between the child and adult in a Montessori classroom is conveyed by these words of a young child: “Help me to do it myself.”
Frequently Asked Questions about the Montessori Method
The number of Montessori schools in the U.S. is growing, and key Montessori ideas are being integrated into many public schools and universities. Along with growing interest and acceptance, there are questions and even some misconceptions. Here are some of the queries we hear most often.
- Montessori is a pre-school system, isn’t it?
- Aren’t Montessori students free to do whatever they want in the classroom? How do you ensure each one gets a fully rounded education?
- Montessori classrooms look so different. Where are the students’ desks? Where do teachers stand?
- Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?
- Without objective measurements like grades, how do you assess a Montessori child’s performance?
- Is it true Montessori schools have no textbooks and no homework?
- Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?
- Are sports part of a Montessori education?
- How do Montessori graduates fare in the world, where they don't always set the agenda?