From starting a Montessori school to becoming president of the Montessori Association New Zealand (MANZ), Kaipara Flats resident Dave Stott has been instrumental in developing Montessori education in New Zealand.
In 1982, Dave’s children, aged two and three years, attended Wellington’s only Montessori early childhood centre.
Montessori was founded by Maria Montessori in Italy in 1907 and focuses on learning in accordance with natural body and brain development.
Dave was so impressed by the philosophy that he set up New Zealand’s first Montessori Primary School in Wellington called Wa Ora, in 1988. Wa Ora still remains the country’s only multi-level school run entirely on the Montessori philosophy. It includes a pre-school, primary and secondary section.
“Wa Ora started with one pre-school class and within 12 months we had three pre-school classes and a primary school class,” Dave says.
Dave went on to become the president of MANZ.
“As we worked to establish Montessori across New Zealand, we did face some opposition initially, but eventually we were accepted as a mainstream form of education.”
This was partly accomplished when Dave was accepted to represent Montessori on the Early Childhood Advisory Committee, which met regularly with the Ministry of Education.
In 2000, Dave established a Montessori early childhood and primary degree at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and he and wife Nicky Chisnall moved to Auckland where Nicky became a lecturer on the course.
However, the Montessori degree, as well as degrees in Pasifika and Steiner studies, were discontinued this year.
One of the largest Montessori events Dave was involved in was a conference in Sydney in 2007, which attracted more than 1000 parents and teachers. He also visited Italy for the Montessori 100th anniversary in 2007.
After 2007 Dave ended his involvement with Montessori, but Nicky went on to gain her PhD in teaching and wrote a book on Montessori education. Nicky passed away four years ago before the book could be released so Dave hopes to publish it later this year.