Skip to main content

Conference Programme: Saturday, 8 June 2013

08:30 - 09:00


09:00 - 09:10

Welcome to Country

Aunty Agnes Shea - Ngunnawal Elder

09:10 - 09:20

Conference Welcome
Pamela Nunn, Greg MacDonald

09:20 - 09:30

Official Opening
The Hon. Peter Garrett

09:30 - 09:45

Children's Welcome

Children from Canberra Montessori School unveil a special welcome presentation to inspire and uplift the spirit. Featuring Sayler Allen.

09:45 - 10:00

Our Global Mission and Australia's Contribution
André Roberfroid
As Montessorians, our mission is to support the natural development of the human being from birth to maturity, enabling children to become the transforming elements of society leading to a harmonious and peaceful world. We have an enduring legacy in the study of childhood with a global mission in education and advocacy of social change. As Australia celebrates its Centenary of Montessori, we look at how far we've come and how Australia has contributed to this mission over the past 100 years. We then turn our eyes towards the future to see what's possible in the next century.

10:00 - 11:00

Montessori Education and the Development of the Self
Steve Hughes
Beginning as a tiny spark in infancy, the light that shines within a child will, over time, grow to become a steady, strong flame if he or she experiences an environment that recognizes, respects, and fuels that inner light. What are the requisite features of such an environment? What makes Montessori education so effective in "fueling the flame" of each child's unique identity? Part of Dr. Montessori's genius was her understanding that human development requires different experiences at different stages or planes of development. Working from the set of cognitive capabilities known as "executive functions," Dr. Hughes will show unique features of each of the first three planes refines and supports the creation of essential cognitive capabilities that help produce curious, creative, moral, inspired, and inspiring adults; persons in whom the light of identity burns bright and warm. Dr. Hughes will end by describing features of the environment necessary for growth in the fourth plane, and call for Montessorians everywhere to take leadership in bringing these principles to their homes, schools, and wider communities.

11:00 - 11:30

Morning Tea

11:30 - 12:10

Our Journey
Barry Hilson
The Australian Montessori story begins in 1913 when Australian early childhood educators travelled by Rome to attend the first training courses held by Dr Maria Montessori. Barry Hilson takes us on the journey from our original beginnings, showing a series of developmental stages through which our Montessori identity has progressed. In among the themes, influences and highlights, there are some highly useful lessons for our future development. The talk will acknowledge major contributions and events – but it will not be solely concerned with our past. In answer to another question: “Are we there yet?” it will echo the words of Sir Winston Churchill - “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end... but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning!” There will be much excitement in our continuing journey - as we ride a favourable swing of the pendulum in national and international education policy - to become a substantial and respected system within our educational cosmos.

12:10 - 12:15

Official Launch Montessori Centenary Book
Christine Harrison

12:15 - 13:00

Montessori Education for the 21st Century
Shannon Helfrich
The benefits of our Montessori approach are just as significant for the child in today's modern world. The truth of Dr. Montessori's vision of the child remains the same. It is a picture of hope for the world that can be fulfilled by supporting the optimal unfolding of each child's growth and development

13:00 - 14:30


14:30 - 15:15

The Core of Montessori
Laura Flores Shaw
Parents frequently ask, ‘What is Montessori education?’ Responses to this question vary widely but often include language about mixed-age classrooms, hands-on learning, and brain-based curriculum. While such responses are correct, they do not express the most important benefit – the core – of Montessori education and its contribution to the development of a child’s authentic self-esteem. The Core of Montessori will demonstrate this benefit in terms that are truly relevant to parents and in a way that inspires their full support of this holistic developmental method.

15:15 - 16:00

Montessori in Action: Changing the World of People Living with Dementia
Anne Kelly
The journey to change the world for people living with dementia using Montessori methods has been both inspiring and powerful. The ability to change outcomes and quality of life for people living in residential aged care is there in the Montessori way if we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts. Maria Montessori’s vision makes a perfect mission statement for dementia care. To enable individuals to be as independent as possible, to have a meaningful place in their community, to have high self esteem, and to have the chance to make choices and meaningful contributions to their community. This presentation will show you the journey thus far.

Conference Programme: Sunday, 9 June 2013

09:00 - 09:05

Pamela Nunn, Greg MacDonald

09:05 - 09:15

Adolescent Micro Economy Studies

We are joined by students from the Sydney Montessori High School who became one of the distributors of A2Z Montessori as a project of their Adolescent Micro Economy Studies. In addition to the distribution of Montessori materials, they sold books, fresh produce, healthy energy drinks, handcrafts and recycled products. Their business grew from selling the occasional product at the school gate to a global organisation that dealt with suppliers in the USA, China and New Zealand and customers all over Australia.

09:15 - 10:00

Montessori: Making a Difference in Thailand
Kannekar Butt, Dr Benjalug Namfa, John Butt, HE Mr Sangiamponsa
There are approximately 10,000 small government schools in Thailand, mostly located in remote areas and many with problems associated with funding and not meeting basic levels of education. With the introduction of the Reform Act of 1999 an opportunity arose to introduce the Thai government to Montessori as a way to make a difference to thousands of Thai children. After 3 years of work promoting Montessori to Thai educationalists, Kannekar Butt began a pilot project "The Development of the Child's Potential in Small Governmment Schools" in 2004 using the Montessori approach. This was followed up by 3-6 AMI training for 75 students and when evidence of remarkable progress became available in June 2008 the Thai government approved and formalised co-operation with AMI for the implementation of Montessori education in Thailand. Both parties committed to enabling more children in Thailand to access high quality Montessori education. Through the Australian Thai Montessori Supporters, Australians have supported the Montessori work in Thailand and now thousands of educationalists from government and private sectors have visited Montessori environments to see how Montessori is making a difference in Thailand and training continues with 3-6, 6-12 and school administrators' courses and plans are being made for the Assistants to Infancy course in the future.

Presented by Kannekar and John Butt, they are joined by special guests Dr Benjalug Namfa, Deputy Secretary General, Basic Education Commission and HE Mr. Maris Sangiampongsa, Ambassador of Thailand.

10:00 - 10:30

Montessori: Making a Difference in the Torres Strait
Julia Hilson, Ned David, Kay Boulden
In 2008, the Montessori Children's Foundation formed a partnership with Tagai State College, a 17-campus school serving 15 Torres Strait islands in far northern Australia, and TSIREC, the Torres Strait Islanders Regional Education Council. In 2009 we opened with a single Montessori pre-school program. Now, in 2013, we have four pre-school programs, two early primary programs, six Strait Start programs for children from birth to age three and their families, and the first ever Montessori childcare centre in the region, and we are conducting research to document the impact of the programs not only on children, but also on their families and why they have become so passionate about what Montessori offers their children. This presentation will showcase the transformational effect that Montessori programs have had in the Torres Strait, and the ways they are underpinned by our enduring partnerships, based as much on our shared joy in watching a love of learning and independence unfold in the children, as on our mutual respect and willingness to learn from each other.

10:30 - 11:00

Montessori: Making a Difference in Aboriginal Communities
Catherine Reed, Cherie Singleton, Kay Boulden
MCF has developed programs in a range of Aboriginal communities in rural and remote Australia. This presentation explores some of the similarities and differences in the contexts of life in remote communities, and the ways in which MCF in partnership with local organisations has developed a range of programs to provide services for children and their families which respond to local conditions and meet local needs. Two case studies will be offered, one charting the redevelopment of a childcare centre in the small community of Pormpuraaw in Cape York and canvassing both the challenges and the triumphs of the work; the second explores a very different model of the emergence of a Montessori early learning program in the tiny school of Kiwirrkurra in WA’s Gibson Desert, the most remote Aboriginal community in Australia. The presentation will reflect on the creativity, passion, persistence, patience and flexibility required to create excellence and sustainability in programs in diverse Aboriginal communities.

11:00 - 11:30

Morning Tea

11:30 - 12:15

Montessori's Contribution to Early Childhood Education
Alison Elliott
This presentation explores some of the enduring contributions of Montessori pedagogy in contemporary early childhood education. Montessori¹s writings on education for peace are especially pertinent today as educators around the globe aim to build spirituality, resilience, responsible citizenship and respect for diversity. The values that Montessori promoted a century ago are forerunners of those promoted in contemporary policies and curricula world wide. Montessori¹s approaches both underpin and reinforce contemporary commitments to building community and global citizenship and to actively working for peace and reconciliation.

12:15 - 13:00

Montessori Primary – Building a Better 21st Century
Greg MacDonald
What is it about the Montessori approach to education that produces confident, engaged learners who almost invariably become successful, happy adults? How does Montessori in the Primary (6-12 years) prepare children for high school, university, and for a lifetime of contribution to their chosen field and to their community? In an increasingly troubled world, why might we look to this and future generations of Montessori children for viable answers to fundamental dilemmas that have plagued humanity since the dawn of history? In this presentation, Greg MacDonald will demonstrate that Montessori education contains within it principles that will serve our each of our children for a lifetime. Those same principles, embedded in the Montessori adults our children will become, hold immense potential for fundamental and positive world change in the 21st Century.

13:00 - 14:30


14:30 - 15:15

Teaching in New Times: From Sage to Guide to Meddler
Erica McWilliam
Our teaching and learning habits are useful but they can also be deadly. They are useful when the conditions in which they work are predictable and stable. They are deadly if and when the bottom falls out of the stable social world in and for which we learn. This presentation builds on Montessori’s reputation for challenging orthodox thinking about effective teaching and effective schooling, arguing for a more interventionist role for teachers as co-learners, and a greater emphasis on an experimental culture of learning. It explores why and how we need to think about the teacher as a ‘meddler in the middle’, not just a ‘sage on the stage’ or a ‘guide on the side’.

15:15 - 16:00

Our Great Work
Lynne Lawrence
Montessori is more than an education system. Dr Montessori had a much wider vision, believing in bringing a message of hope and peace through education and making a profound change in the child, the adult and society as a whole. In Dr Montessori's words “Directing our action toward mankind means, first and foremost, doing so with regard to the child. The child, that ‘forgotten citizen’, must be appreciated in accordance with his true value. His rights as a human being who shapes all of mankind must become sacred, and the secret laws of his normal psychic development must light the way for civilisation” (Education and Peace). Our Great Work takes us on a journey of stories of Montessori programmes around the world, with the hope to inspire our own great work.
Don't enter anything