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Education Anywhere? A Constructivist Grounded Theory Study of Montessori Around the World

Victoria J Johnson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Providing education for children residing in remote or difficult-to-access locations, including children in refugee and displacement camps, is a staggering global challenge. In addition to logistical challenges (such as access, infrastructure, teaching professionals and resources), differences in language, culture, environment, and values render conventional (i.e., Western-based, traditional) modes of education unfeasible and frequently ineffective. However, a strengths-based lens reminds us that communities have the capacity to initiate solutions when they have access to the right tools. Historically underrepresented in the literature, Montessori education has been used for over a century by communities all over the world to prepare children through academic and developmental growth to contribute to their local and global societies. Using constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2014) this study explored the application of Montessori philosophy and methods in diverse settings around the world. Analyses were informed by more than two years of fieldwork (including ethnographic inquiry) and conducted from 34 interviews with practitioners (N = 31) in 14 countries to understand where (contexts), why (purposes), and how (processes) the Montessori approach was applied. Final theoretical models were derived from the findings, depicting the ways in which the Montessori approach was applied in diverse settings, including the strengths and challenges involved in that process. Final models illustrated both processes of implementation across settings and the spectrum of application initiated by Montessori philosophy, methodology, and praxis. This study contributes to the literature on global education and Montessori education by informing policy makers, leaders, trainers, practitioners, and communities how Montessori theories of human development may be applied through principles, practices, and methods in diverse and under-resourced locations to serve the academic and holistic development of children via community-based initiatives.

Subject Area

Education|Education Policy|Educational sociology|Early childhood education|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Victoria J, "Education Anywhere? A Constructivist Grounded Theory Study of Montessori Around the World" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI29323348.