History of the Reception of Montessori Education in Japan

Mika Yonezu


This paper focuses on the history of the reception of Montessori Education, and sheds light on the development of childhood education in Japan. From its first adoption in the 1910s until today, the Montessori style of Education has been both praised and criticised. Nevertheless, this period has seen three distinct phases of theory and practice. The first stage (1910s-1930s) saw, from its initial adoption, a rapid acceptance of Montessori Education, due to its promise of early education and new teaching methods promoting freedom for children. However, the method soon lost popularity because some educators criticized the weakness of Montessori’s theory. In the second stage (1930s-post-World War II), interest in the method continued to grow, albeit gradually, and several books published on the Montessori Method in Europe and America were translated into Japanese. The third stage (1950s-present) saw the so-called «Montessori revival», in which the method caught on again with many educators. Many original works were translated, numerous studies on Montessori appeared, and the number of kindergartens and nursery schools using the Montessori Method increased. Much has been said both for and against Montessori’s concept of «freedom for children». Recently, however «learning from the environment» has become an important topic in early childhood education in Japan. Montessori attaches importance to children’s freedom to interact with each other and their environment, leading to a renewed interest in the Montessori method and the theory behind it. This paper seeks to clarify the transitions in the popularity of Montessori Education and analyse its value to Japan.


history of the reception; Montessori; Montessori Education; Japan; environment; childhood education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14516/ete.227


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