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Montessori and Aquinas BFFs

February 28, AD 2012 9 Comments

Well Maria Montessori and Thomas Aquinas weren’t exactly best friends, but the did share many of the same views on education and formation.

I have to admit it, up until about three weeks ago I knew nothing about Maria Montessori or the Montessori Method. I would have never guessed that the program that produced the likes of…

Larry Page & Sergey Brin: Founders of Google
Jeff Bezos: Founder & CEO of
Prince William and Prince Harry: English Royal Family
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Nobel Prize Winner for Literature (and one of my favorite authors)
Jimmy Wales: Founder of Wikipedia
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: Editor, Former First Lady
Julia Child: Chef & Author

and my personal favorite

Sean “P Diddy” Combs: Music producer/entrepreneur.

was created by a daily communicant who personally knew most the 6 Popes who reigned during her lifetime.

Needless to say the more I’ve learned, the more I feel like I have found the authentic face of Catholic education and parenting. Apparently the Missionaries of Charity agree as they now use the method at their missions.

Unfortunately the “Montessori” name was never copyrighted and so thus many of Maria Montessori’s original writings, as well as the educational program as practiced today in many “Montessori” schools, has had much of the blatant Catholic ethos withdrawn from it.

What results is that many Catholics (including myself until three weeks ago) are unfamiliar with the teaching method based off Aquinas’s theology of the human person which had been planned to be the universal education syllabus of the Church prior to Pope Benedict the XV’s death.

There is no reason for me to try and explain something as in depth as the Montessori method, so do yourself a favor (especially if you have kids or plan to) and download the talks I’ve linked below.

The talks were passed on to me by a friend and I’m not sure of their origin beyond the fact that the speaker is Maggie Radzik (Foundress and Head Catechist/Parent Education of Siena Academy in Great Falls, Virginia) and that I have permission to share the audio. You can learn about Maggie and the Montessori Method here.

Click the talks below to download them. They are larger files and the audio isn’t perfect but the content is worth it.
The Four Stages of Development

The Prepared Environment


Catechesis of the Good Shepherd


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Steven Lawson is a newly married young adult living in the Diocese of Buffalo NY. After a reversion from agnosticism during a semester working in NYC, he felt called to ministry in the Church and left his dream since youth of working in film and animation. Steven is the founder of Why I’m Catholic, a website designed to bring Catholic conversion stories to the web 2.0, specifically to young adults. During the day Steven works on iCatholicRadio (the first dedicated Catholic radio application for Apple and Android mobile devices) and various other new media outreaches for The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio. He is also currently pursuing a Masters in Pastoral Theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado.[/author_info] [/author]

About the Author:

  • Barbara Curtis, who blogs at, has just started a whole series of posts on Maria Montessori. She is a Montessori teacher and a mom, and has a VERY interesting conversion story. Montessori’s schools originally all taught Catholicism, and those lessons are the basis of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, which was developed the same way she worked — very carefully, over years of observing children interacting with the materials and responding to the lessons. Maria Montessori was a genius and part of her success was actually seeing how children learned, and then creating lessons, rather than coming up with a grand theory and then trying it out in classrooms. She had a huge respect for children. IF you are interested, check out MommyLife, it’s always interesting!

  • Back home we have a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. The children love it. I had forgotten about her program, but now will be checking out quite a few books from my library!

  • Gail – I will definately check out the series, thank you for sharing it. I may see if she would be interested in sharing her conversion story on as well!

    Kayla – The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is fascinating. In the talks Maggie states that some groups (I believe the missionaries of charity) are using it as a basic catechesis for adults as well! I live in Buffalo and the Diocese of Toronto offers training classes, I hope to make it up there at some point.

  • Steve – That would be awesome to have the opportunity as an adult as well. I helped in the Atrium I hope you can write about and share your experience.

  • Edward G. Radler Rice

    Here’s a good link to the relationship between Catholicism and the Montessori Method:

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Sophomore Theology Teacher
    San Antonio, TX

    M.Div.; currently completing Masters in Catholic School Leadership

  • Thank you Edward, that is a great article, better than anything else I have been able to find on the web!

  • Edward G. Radler Rice


    Here’s a link to what I suppose is an accurate html version of Montessori Method by Maria Montessori:

    This link leads to an audio version, which I haven’t heard:

    And here’s a link to a print version that I have a copy of and plan on reading this summer:

  • Thank you Edward, I think that makes you our resident Montessori expert!

  • Eddie

    Not even close, Steve. I simply have a great interest in learning more about true Catholic educators and their respective theories and methodologies of education owing to the fact that so much of what I “study” in my graduate education courses is bunk…or worse. We consider Marxists, for instance. I understand the value of knowing about erroneous philosophies, theories, and methodologies… However, although I’m nearing the end of this graduate track, I have not heard a single professor bring up Aquinas’ understanding of epistemology. …I can point to a slew of other deficiencies as well.