La rete di Maria Montessori in Svizzera

Sahlfeld, Wolfgang and Vanini, Alina (2018) La rete di Maria Montessori in Svizzera. UNSPECIFIED. Annali di Storia dell'educazione e delle istituzioni scolastiche (25). pp. 163-180. ISSN 1723-9672

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The penetration of Maria Montessori’s ideas in Switzerland is a typical case of a peda- gogical transfer process. Since 1908, when the kindergarten inspector of Canton Ticino (italian- speaking Switzerland) Teresa Bontempi came in direct contact with Maria Montessori, there was a Montessori-network based on Ticino’s kindergarten system and on the Società Umanitaria (a so- cialist philanthropic foundation which organised the first Montessori-kindergartens in Milan). Teresa Bontempi’s early contacts with the Società Umanitaria made possible the introduction of Montessori’s method in all kindergartens in Ticino, and allowed the Umanitaria to have a good training for its kindergarten-teachers (trained by Teresa Bontempi herself). In 1913 the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Geneva) joined the network. People moved then between different parts of the network, e.g. from the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Teresa Bontempi’s courses in Bellinzona (Ticino), or from Ticino to the Umanitaria’s kindergartens in Italy. The network extended its in- fluence also to german-speaking Switzerland. Maria Montessori herself was in direct contact with the network; in different moments, however, her attitude towards it changed deeply. In a first time, for example, she considered Teresa Bontempi a trustful partner for the penetration of her ideas in Switzerland; later she considered her a concurrent and blamed her for not using with fidelity the Montessori method. In 1932 Maria Montessori visited Switzerland for several public lessons, totally neglecting her consolidated local network. In the same year she founded, with the help of other, more orthodox but not locally anchored people, the Swiss Montessori Association. The Montessori method, after having a big number of followers, was soon marginalized and never regained the importance it had in the period from 1908 to 1931.

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