Loyola, Montessori training school to merge College to be first in U.S. to offer teaching students international diploma

January 07, 1998|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Loyola College in Maryland plans to acquire a 36-year-old Washington Montessori training institute, becoming the first college in the country to offer a master's degree in Montessori education that is internationally recognized.

The Washington Montessori Institute, an independent school founded in 1962 and accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale, and its faculty will officially merge with Loyola next fall.

Montessori is a nontraditional educational approach, geared largely to early childhood but growing more popular in elementary grades. It allows children to "discover" what they need to know rather than have it dictated to them.

The master's in Montessori will be the first new program offered at the college's Timonium graduate center, scheduled to open in September.

"This is a program that's national in scope. It combines specialized study in Montessori with graduate-level courses in educational research," said Sharon Dubble, coordinator of the program at Loyola.

"We will be recruiting students nationally" but also emphasizing "this is a new option here. We're hoping to be able to attract more students from across Maryland," she said.

The new program, part of Loyola's education department, will accept 70 full-time students a year, an increase of 10 to 12 students over the capacity of the Washington institute, said Kay Baker, director of elementary training there.

"Loyola has had a master's program in collaboration with the Washington Montessori Institute for a number of years," said Dubble. "This seemed to be a logical way to both expand the program and be able, for the first time, to do the entire program in one place."

Five teachers and one assistant from the Washington institute, the nation's oldest internationally accredited Montessori-training school, will join the Loyola faculty, Baker said. Loyola will also acquire all the equipment and materials, but no money will be exchanged, she added.

Other area colleges, including Goucher in partnership with the Montessori School in Lutherville, also offer master's degrees in Montessori education. They are, however, affiliated with the American Montessori Society rather than the international group.

The Association Montessori Internationale was founded by Marie Montessori and is more conservative than the American Montessori Society, said Michael Eanes, national director of AMS.

Beginning in Italy in the early part of this century, the Montessori educational method builds on children's natural stages of development, Dubble explained. "Montessori believed that children develop themselves" and that the teacher's role is to create an environment appropriate for the young children, rather than to direct their learning.

In this country, about 5,000 schools claim to be Montessori centers, designed for children from ages 3 to 12, but only about one-fifth of them are accredited, said Eanes. "Montessori is still small but growing," he said.

Dubble said Loyola was interested in acquiring the Washington program because the demand for teachers continues to outstrip supply, and because those trained in the international diploma program can teach all over the world.

The expanded program also will help the college in its broader goals: "It fits very naturally into Loyola's mission to prepare graduates to be leaders in their fields," Dubble said.

Pub Date: 1/07/98

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