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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
In this article, the author compares the legacies of two remarkable educators--John Dewey and Maria Montessori. These include changes in education now so commonplace that is accepted as traditional. Both Montessori and Dewey lived long enough to see their ideas receive worldwide recognition and acceptance, along with a share of misunderstanding and rejection. Over 50 years after their death, both are enjoying renewed popularity. The differences in their thought lie in the philosophical and educational thinking which are reflected in their different milieus. Dewey was a thorough American secular Democrat with egalitarian values and ideals while Montessori reflected the class consciousness and noblesse-oblige of Italian Catholic society. However, both of them share a primacy in the idea of the role of "the hand" in education. For Dewey, it represents the importance of always trying initial learning to hands-on experience. Similarly, Montessori believed that all learning should start with concrete hands-on experience and progress to abstraction. Both Montessori and Dewey recognized the value and importance of manual labor. Also, the role of memorization in education receives an equal lack of plaudits from both Montessori and Dewey. The former clearly separated memorization from abstraction. She considered it more as a necessary means to other ends, without much inherent interest. While the steps to abstraction gave form to the Montessori curriculum, the process of problem solving was essential to Dewey's "projects education." Memorization and recitation only took meaning as a helpful part of this process.