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Maria Montessori’s Philosophy of Experimental Psychology

Patrick R. Frierson
HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science
Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 2015), pp. 240-268
DOI: 10.1086/682395
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/682395
Page Count: 29
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Maria Montessori’s Philosophy of Experimental Psychology
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Abstract

Through philosophical analysis of Montessori’s critiques of psychology, I aim to show the enduring relevance of those critiques. Maria Montessori sees experimental psychology as fundamental to philosophy and pedagogy, but she objects to the experimental psychology of her day in four ways: as disconnected from practice, as myopic, as based excessively on methods from physical sciences, and—most fundamentally—as offering detailed examinations of human beings (particularly children) under abnormal conditions. In place of these prevailing norms, Montessori suggests a model of the teacher-scientist in a specially prepared environment, who can engage in sustained and impassioned observation of “normalized” children. Drawing from a variety of texts and recently published lectures, this article lays out Montessori’s philosophy of experimental psychology and briefly discusses its relevance today.

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