Remembering Joy Starry Turner

By Chattin-McNichols, John | Montessori Life, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Remembering Joy Starry Turner

Chattin-McNichols, John, Montessori Life

Joy Turner was a tireless, intelligent supporter of Montessori and the American Montessori Society, and I hope that this short appreciation will help people to understand just a few of her many contributions.

Her school, Greenhouse Montessori, in Garden Grove, CA, grew to serve elementary ages, and includes three schools and an AMS-affiliated teacher education program.

On more than one occasion, I was one of the evaluators of her teacher education program, and always found Montessori Western TTP to be ahead of other programs (including my own) in one or more areas. Joy was one of those people who combined a very strong knowledge of Montessori's ideas with a conviction that others in addition to Montessori have something worthwhile to add to our understanding of children. She was an early champion of making our teacher education programs less medievall and more in line with what is known about the best in adult education.

I recall an exercise she inserted into the classroom management curriculum. This involved the students choosing a slip of paper on which a potential classroom problem was described. Students would assume the roles of student and teacher. This may sound like standard fare-perhaps teachers reading this did the same thing during their teacher education program. But Joy was the innovator here, always looking for ways to move beyond one more lecture, and patiently bringing the rest of us along.

Joy was also, of course, an excellent author. I consider her "How Do You Teach Reading?" to be a Montessori classic that every teacher should read.

In a series of Teacher Education Committee meetings that took place years ago, Peggy Loeffler and Joy decided that the elementary model in use in the United States was an almost completely unexamined copy of the model taught by AMI courses, especially the Bergamo course (in northern Italy). Joy asked the obvious question: "Are there any parts of this curriculum or instructional methods which should be modified for contemporary American children?" Obviously, yes, since this curriculum and instructional model was a mix of Montessori ideas and then-current European (especially Italian) ideas and content. But no one had had the nerve to ask it but Joy! Peggy and Joy formed an Elementary Study Group and asked each of us to prepare a comprehensive summary of an area of child development for presentation at the next meeting.

After summarizing all human knowledge of child development, we would then review each area of the curriculum (and associated instructional ideas) in light of each of the child development reviews. Imagine taking a particular sequence-beginning reading with phonetic letters, the introduction to subtraction, the fundamental needs of people-and examining it in detail in the light of cognitive, personality, social/emotional, and physical/perceptual developmental knowledge. What should change? And how could we get this across in educating new Montessori elementary teachers?

As I recall, these meetings took place before, after, and during the breaks of the regular TEC sessions-accreditation, standards committees, and so on. We would work until 11 p.m. or later. And, at breakfast, Joy would hand us all typed summaries of what we had said the day before! The meetings opened up a then-untouchable subject to get the best thinking on this very real question. When you take advantage of curriculum developments, from the Five Kingdom work, to better physical sciences, to cooperative learning, to some degree you are sharing in Joy's work. These encounters were the best consistent source of real professional development I have had, then or since: a true peer group, interested only in ideas, not egos.

I could share more reminiscences about Joy, but I want to focus on two things which I think are her most important and enduring contributions, both of which are central to AMS as it is now, but are also contributions to the whole Montessori movement.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Remembering Joy Starry Turner


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?