Grappling with the miseducation of Montessori: a feminist posthuman re-reading of ‘child’ in early childhood contexts

Osgood, Jayne ORCID logoORCID: and Mohandas, Sid (2022) Grappling with the miseducation of Montessori: a feminist posthuman re-reading of ‘child’ in early childhood contexts. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 23 (3) . pp. 302-316. ISSN 1463-9491 [Article] (doi:10.1177/14639491221117222)

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This paper demonstrates how feminist posthumanism can reconfigure conceptualisations of, and practices with, ‘child’ in Montessori early childhood contexts. It complicates Montessori’s contemporary reputation as a ‘middle-class phenomenon’ by returning to the earliest Montessori schools as a justice-oriented project for working-class children and families. Grappling with the contradictions and inconsistencies of Montessori thought, this paper both acknowledges the legacy of Montessori's feminism, whilst also situating her project within the wider colonial capitalist context in which it emerged. A critical engagement with Montessori education unsettles modernist conceptualisations of ‘child’ and its civilising agenda on minds and bodies. Specifically, Montessori child observation (as a civilising mission) is disrupted and re-read from a feminist posthumanist orientation to generate more relational, queer and expansive accounts of how child is produced through observation. Working with three ‘encounters’ from fieldwork at a Montessori nursery we attend to the material discursive affective manifestation of social class, gender, sexuality and ‘race’ and what that means for child figurations in Montessori contexts. We conclude by embracing Snaza’s ‘bewildering education’, to reach towards different imaginaries of ‘child’ that are not reliant on dialectics of ‘human’ and ‘nonhuman’, and that allows ‘child’ to be taken seriously, without risking erasure of fleshy, leaky, porous, codified bodies in Montessori spaces.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Risking Erasure? Posthumanist Research Practices and Figurations of (the) Child
Keywords (uncontrolled): children, early childhood education, feminisms, Montessori, posthuman theories
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
Item ID: 35664
Notes on copyright: © The Author(s) 2022
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
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Depositing User: Jayne Osgood
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 14:07
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2022 12:35

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