Nature via Nurture: Scientific Foundations of the Montessori Pedagogy

A Multidisciplinary Lecture Series

Montessori is often called a “scientific pedagogy,” and current research shows how Montessori education can benefit children from all backgrounds.
What are the foundational, biological, and neurodevelopmental mechanisms inherent in human nature that explain Montessori’s success? How does the Montessori method balance nature and nurture to bring out the humanity within ourselves? This online lecture series explores many of the intersections between contemporary science and Montessori pedagogy.



Montessori is a pedagogy based on scientific evidence and methodical observation, and current research shows that Montessori education benefits children from all backgrounds.

But why is this? What are the foundational, biological and neurodevelopmental mechanisms inherent to human development that explain Montessori’s success? How does the Montessori method balance nature and nurture to bring out the humanity within ourselves?

In this multidisciplinary lecture series, we invite you to take a journey into the scientific foundations of Montessori pedagogy, aided by the overlapping perspectives of an AMI Teacher Trainer, a biomedical scientist and a paediatric neuropsychologist.


  • To connect key principles of the Montessori pedagogy with their roots in human development, human cognition and core biological rules
  • To build an integrative view of fundamental Montessori principles, drawing from complementary and multidisciplinary perspectives
  • To understand the natural development and biological needs of the human being across several planes of developmental
  • To understand the inseparable nature of genetic and environmental components to a balanced human development
  • To explore the pedagogy as a unique toolkit for innovation and problem solving


Coming soon


The Lecture series is structured into 4 parts. The first three lectures draw on the expertise of each of the speakers (Elina Rautasalo, Jorge Beira, Steven Hughes) and build upon their own fields to connect key principles of the Montessori pedagogy with its biological and neuropsychological foundations.

Lecture 1

Elina Rautasalo

As a starting point on this journey, Elina’s long experience as an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Teacher Trainer will provide the foundations for understanding the pedagogy, its universal applicability and the components that render it a holistic response to the requirements of human development.

Lecture 2

Jorge Beira

Then, Jorge will draw upon his expertise on developmental biology and epigenetics to guide attendees in a journey through the genetic basis of human growth, what we can learn from other species and how the behaviour of cells within their communities can be so informative in understanding human societies.

Lecture 3

Dr. Steven Hughes

Steve will then build upon these biological principles and bring the discussion to the level of human cognition, and how we construct a conceptual representation of the world. How do we manage our biological requirements and optimize our actions in order to achieve our goals most efficiently? And how can individual objectives and needs integrate with the goals of an entire community? A systems-level understanding of human cognition sheds light on how Montessori pedagogy responds to the needs of a developing brain.

Lecture 4


On the fourth and final lecture, we will build upon the knowledge shared during the previous sessions and bring the discussion to the next level: the future, and what awaits the next human generations living on a changing planet. What are the global challenges to the human mind and lifestyle, to the environment, and to the future of mankind on Earth? Building upon a scientific and factual basis to present these themes, we will engage in a forum discussion to reflect on how Montessori can be a powerful solution to promote innovation, critical thinking, problem solving and a holistic understanding of our world.


During the final Q&A we will also welcome questions from the audience, and a balanced debate that can inspire us all in identifying actionable solutions and an integrative view of the human being that natural selection has shaped to such great potential.


The lecture series costs: 

€130,- (Individual ticket)

When you apply as a group with 10 or more members you will get a 10% discount. 

When you apply as a group of 20 or more members you will get a 20% discount. 


If you are applying with a group of colleagues or friends, translation in multiple languages may be possible at extra costs. Please contact us to check possibilities. 

Biographical Sketch of the Speakers

Elina Rautasalo is an AMI 3-6 Teacher Trainer with over 30 years of experience in the field of education, working with both children and adults in her native Finland and abroad. Her Montessori journey began in London in the early 1990s at the Maria Montessori Institute, where she gained her AMI 3-6 Diploma. Subsequently, Elina was a member of the MMI’s training team for over 20 years. Elina has directed AMI’s 3-6 courses in South East Asia and Europe. Currently she is Director of 3-6 Training in the Czech Republic, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Elina is an AMI Examiner and also lectures internationally. She has given seminars and workshops in various countries in Europe, as well as in Asia, North and South America. 

As a Scientist and Educator, Dr. Jorge Beira discovered the depth of the Montessori pedagogy after the birth of his children, and remains fascinated about the natural adaptability of the pedagogy to all facets of human development. As a scientist, Jorge has investigated the development and growth of several species, the interactions between cells and systems – both in health and disease states, such as cancer – and also the influence of the environment and external factors on gene regulation (epigenetics).

Biomedical Engineer (IST, Lisbon, PT), PhD (University College London, UK), post-doc (ETH Zürich, Switzerland). Jorge has also been committed to several science communication initiatives to lay audiences, and has been bringing science to schools for more than a decade — always attempting to convey complex concepts through simple explanations. After living and working in a number of countries, Jorge values diversity and multiculturalism as a core aspect of a well-balanced education.


Dr. Steven Hughes is a pediatric neuropsychologist with over twenty years of professional experience. A long-term advocate for Montessori education (and a Montessori parent), he has spoken to groups all over the world about brain development, diagnosis and treatment of learning and attention problems, and environmental conditions (at home, school and work) that support the optimal growth of higher-order cognitive skills. Dr. Hughes spent over a decade on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School and is past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology. Dr. Hughes was the founding chair of AMI’s Global Research Committee and is currently a member of the AMI and AMS Research committees.

Nature via Nurture: Scientific Foundations of the Montessori Pedagogy

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