Montessori in India

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Montessori in India became popularised when Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method, was forced to stay in India during World War II.


Maria Montessori's work in India began with her arrival there in 1939, and continued through her representatives, Joosten and Swamy, before spreading further. In 1939, the Theosophical Society of India extended an invitation to the 69-year-old Montessori. She accepted the invitation and reached India the same year. She made Adyar, Chennai her home and lived there along with her son, Mario. The famous Montessorians, Gool Minwala, Tehmina Wadia and Khurshed Taraporewala were the students in the first training at Adyar.

In 1940, when India entered World War II, Montessori and her son were interned as enemy aliens in India, but Maria was allowed to conduct training courses. Sixteen courses were conducted during this time, creating a very strong base for the method here. She also had her own school in Kodaikanal for this duration. In 1947, she went back to Europe for a brief period. Montessori returned to India for a second time the same year to conduct a few more courses in places like Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Karachi. The Montessoris then returned to Europe, leaving A.M. Joosten as their representative in India. Montessori died in 1952 at the age of 81 years.

Indian Montessori Training Courses (IMTC)[edit]

To create an official structure for Joosten's work, an organisation was created by the name of Indian Montessori Training Courses (IMTC) in 1949. It was an organisation consisting mainly of Joosten and Swamy. This travelling institution moved from city to city until Swamy's retirement in 1990. Ex-students from previous trainings working in the locality were called upon to be assistants. After Swamy's retirement, IMTC ran under the Directorship of Meenakshi Shivaramakrishnan. IMTC was now based in Bangalore. By the next decade, new branches were created at Chennai under the name CMTC.

Indian Institute for Montessori Studies (IIMS)[edit]

Indian Montessori Center invited Rajendra Gupta to conduct a primary Montessori training at Bangalore in 1996. This was the first such course to be conducted in India after Montessori left the country. However, IMC discontinued the course after this year. To preserve the method thereafter, Rajendra Gupta set up Indian Institute for Montessori Studies with himself as the Director, Radha Nagaraj as the co-Director, with the help of a few of his students. IIMS continues to be a rarity where the work is carried out by a committee rather than an individual, adding more faculty over the years.

Indian Montessori Foundation (IMF)[edit]

Anyone who takes an AMI Montessori course will attest to the intensity of the programme. Students who complete the course become a part of a large Montessori family and have traditionally been welcomed into school communities wherever they go in the world. The training is in a way two-fold. It attempts to offer all-round professional training so that students who do the course may run effective Montessori environments. On another level it attempts to affect the way adults perceive children, to offer them a deep understanding of Montessori principles, and an insight into the development of all human beings transcending social and cultural barriers. John hairy

At present, there are four AMI Montessori centres in India - Bangalore, Chennai, Hydrebad and Mumbai. The courses run by these centres maintain the highest international academic standards required by AMI. Successful students are awarded an AMI diploma that is internationally recognised.

Other Primary Montessori training courses[edit]

After the popularising of the Primary Montessori Training by IIMS, several schools offering this method at the primary level came up in Bangalore, Tumkur, Chennai and Trichy. This has encouraged other pre-primary based institutions to branch out into this area. Both IMTC and Navadisha Montessori Institute have offered primary Montessori training from time to time.

People behind the Montessori movement in India[edit]

It has taken many years' work by many to make Montessori method popular in India. In one city, Bangalore itself, the number of such schools has increased from six in 1990 to more than a hundred. This growth of the movement was sustained by the following people and their students, who held it together with their personal efforts and charisma.

A.M. Joosten[edit]

Albert Joosten

Albert Joosten, a renowned Montessori trainer, was trained by Montessori in 1934. He worked in Montessori schools (pre-primary and elementary) in Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Laren (Netherlands) and assisted Maria and Mario Montessori and at International Montessori Training Courses and Conferences all over Europe. In 1949, he was appointed Director of the Indian Montessori Training Courses, India, Joosten co-founded the Good Shepherd Maria Montessori Training Center at Colombo (Sri Lanka) in 1957. In 1973, he was appointed, on behalf of the Association Montessori International, Director of the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota, U.S.A. He was the director of all these training centers until his death in 1980. Mr. Joosten conducted workshops and lectures in India, the U.S.A., Canada and several European countries and was speaker at several International Montessori Conference in Europe and the U.S.A. He translated and cooperated with the translation of several of Montessori's books in English, Dutch, German and Portuguese. He continued to be the Director of IMTC till his demise in 1980.

S. R. Swamy[edit]

Mr. S. R. Swamy took Montessori training with Montessori at Kodaikanal. He worked in various schools in India until 1951. He was first Assistant to Mr. Joosten and a trainer at the Indian Montessori Training Courses from 1951 to 1980. He became the Director of the training from 1980 to 1990.

Meenakshi Shivaramakrishnan[edit]

To read about her, please look below under the See also section

Rajendra K. Gupta[edit]

Mr. Gupta took his Montessori pre-primary training with Mr. Joosten in India in 1953 on the recommendation of the headmaster of the school in which he was working at Muzzafarnagar. After working for several years at his old school and at the AMI school of Gwalior, he moved to Delhi. When Mr. Joosten conducted his 6th – 8th course in Delhi, Mr. Gupta acted as his assistant. His wife, Urmila Gupta also took her training at this period and joined him in his work for nearly a decade. When the Birth Centenary celebrations of Montessori was organised in New Delhi, he was in charge. A postage stamp is released on the occasion. V. V. Giri, President of India, presided over the function. Two years later, he left for US. Mr. Gupta stayed in touch with Mr. Joosten till his death in 1980, even visiting him during the latter’s visit to Minnesota. Prof. Gupta took his elementary training with Margaret Stevenson in the USA in 1978. Later he completed his Master of Education degree from Century University, New Mexico, USA. He worked in AMI Montessori Houses of Children for about 20 years in India and the USA and in AMI elementary Montessori Schools for 25 years in the USA. Prof. Gupta was a Montessori trainer for both pre-primary and primary levels with the Southwest Montessori Training Center, Denton, Texas, USA for about ten years. He also gave orientation courses in Montessori Education at the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, and at the Chicago Community College, Illinois, USA. He was an Adjunct Professor with the University of Texas A & I, Kingsville, Texas, USA where he gave a pre-primary Montessori course to the Master of Education students. Mr. Gupta gave workshops in India as well as in the USA on various subjects during 45 years of his teaching career. He has written manuals for Montessori teachers in the areas of botany, zoology, and language, and published classroom materials on science, language, botany, zoology, and history. He has also published books written by Mr. Albert Joosten and other Montessorians. Currently he is the Director of the Indian Institute for Montessori Studies which is conducting Pre-primary cum Elementary course in Bangalore, India.

Radha Nagaraj[edit]

Radha Nagaraj was a product of the infant Montessori school at Hymamshu. She took her pre-primary Montessori training from Mr. Joosten and Mr. Swamy in 1967–68 at the behest of the then Director, Sundaramma. She also set up a new Montessori at Mahila Mandali and worked there under the guidance of Mr. Swamy for ten years. Mr. Joosten came to Bangalore in 1978. Radha Nagaraj acted as his assistant for two years. She continued to work in Mahila Mandali since then as a Directress. She took up assistance at IMTC from 1997 under Mr. Swamy, and continued to work there till 2002. She also handled the training in Kannada till 2004. The post of the co-Director of the pre-primary-cum-primary course at IIMS became hers in 2000, which continues to be hers till now. Radhaji has presented papers at the seminars organized by the Indian Montessori Center at Bangalore and at the celebration of 50 years of Montessori held at Chennai in 1989. She has been consulting with organisations like the Shreyas Foundation school at Ahmedabad and the Balasevika shibira of Vishva Hindu Parishad since 1990. She contributes articles to various Montessori publications in India.

Montessori Associations linked to Training Institutions[edit]

As training institutions grew and set roots in one place, they grew societies to support their students in their work in the field. They also helped in the work of propagation, and brought together all those interested in the method, be they Montessorians, parents, school management or public. We list here some of the prominent ones.

Indian Montessori Center (IMC)[edit]

Government regulations in India state that no education institution can be run by an individual. To solve that issue, IMC, a registered society was created in 1990 with S.R Swamy as the first chairman. Later, Meenakshi Sivaramakrishna continued as the Directess while B V A Rao took over as the chairman of IMC. Another center was also begun in South Bangalore. With all these new changes, AMI disaffiliated IMTC in 1999. IMTC came under the umbrella of IMC instead. Now, IMC has several chapters which operate in different states .Even in Kolkata there is IMC.

Indian Montessori Association (IMA)[edit]

Indian Montessori Association was created to support the students of IIMS, since they set up the first set of primary Montessori schools in India after Montessori’s time. Details of this association can be seen in the link provided.

Indian Montessori Foundation (IMF)[edit]

The Indian Montessori Foundation is a pan-Indian organisation established to promote Montessori education in India.

Their aim is to:

  • Expand the awareness of Montessori philosophy in society
  • Nurture Montessori principles in schools
  • Promote research and development of all aspects of Montessori education
  • Support AMI Montessori training
  • Support and bring together the AMI Alumni

IMF is an affiliate of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) which has its headquarters in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In 1929, Dr. Montessori established the Association Montessori International (AMI) to carry forward her humanistic social vision. AMI today, is a leading world body carrying forward Dr. Montessori's work in the spirit in which it was conceived. Headquartered in Amsterdam in Dr. Montessori's final home, AMI directs training programmes all over the world. AMI is affiliated to the United Nations through UNESCO and strives to further the rights of the child in society.

IMF carries out awareness programmes and arranges events to support the AMI Montessori training and local schools.

Responses from other organisations, including the government[edit]

Since the time of Montessori, many institutions have come to realise the value of her principles. Concepts like ‘child-centric’, ‘activity based’ and ‘discovery based’ methods have come into vogue with many educational institutions, both NGO run and Governmental. However, there has been a notable spurt of growth and development in the Montessori sphere in India.

See also[edit]

1.Meenakshi Shivaramakrishnan

External links[edit]

1.Indian Montessori Centre(IMC)


This article was written on the basis if interviews with people mentioned in the article, and with people who either worked with the people mentioned above or knew them.