The History of Casa
Casa first opened its doors on the 15th of August, 2011. However, the pathway leading to this point started much earlier.
The main reason for Casa’s existence is because of our need to see the Montessori approach practiced in The Netherlands the way Maria Montessori meant for it to be. The idea for Casa first occurred to Tessa Wessels after spending time working in Montessori schools in the Netherlands and struggling to implement the same quality of Montessori that Maria Montessori had intended and that Tessa had seen before.
Tessa did her training in the United States of America, where she also worked in an excellent Montessori school. She moved with her family to The Netherlands in 1997, thrilled to be in a country where Maria Montessori spent so many years and did such great work. However, Tessa was disappointed to see how the Montessori schools implemented the Montessori curriculum and philosophy. Other than the use of the same material and the fact that children should be independent, she did not see much of the great work she witnessed in the USA.
Tessa did her best to follow and push as much of the original Montessori philosophy and approach as she could in the current Montessori schools, but it turned out to be too great of a battle. After approximately 5 years, she realized what an amazing opportunity it would be for The Netherlands to have a good Montessori public school that could set an example for many others.
With this goal in mind, Tessa started searching for collaborators. Karin Keizer was the first who agreed to start a new school with her.
Karin thought this was an excellent idea because Tessa had seen well-functioning Montessori schools abroad and like no other, the Montessori philosophy could convey to others in an inspiring way.
The meeting with Tessa therefore came at the right time in her life, she had been following various drama, coach and NLP training courses for a number of years to gain more insight into how she could guide children and adults in their personal development because, despite the fact that she had been working in education for 25 years (the last ten years at a Montessori school), she was thinking about leaving education.
Karin felt that the Dutch education system was too focused on teaching basic skills and knowledge transfer (unfortunately also at Dutch Montessori schools), while in her opinion the focus should be on personal development and attitude to life. The goal should be to create space in which the child can develop into a harmonious, socially minded person.
If Montessori was to be taught as Maria Montessori intended it to be, she thought it should be possible.
Karin also thought that the needs of the child, the parents and society should be looked at more closely, she thought it was a fundamental principle that Casa should be bilingual and that there should be no distinction between school and day care.
Together Tessa and Karin came up with the Casa concept with the six pillars and they found Erica Geers willing to follow the international Montessori training in Bergamo for children from 6 to 12 years.
And because of their perseverance, they were able to finally open the doors at Casa after four and a half years and it was possible to offer substantially different education to a large group of children and thus to make a real difference in the Netherlands.
What is so exceptional about Montessori?
Firstly, that her view on education was that it should support the natural development of the child. We, the adults should follow the developmental needs of the child. It is completely different from an "output" orientated system/ or a fabric model where the input=output. And the other point that is so fascinating is that Maria Montessori saw great potential in the child. We, the adults, are guides, and we have to assist the child in his/her quest for independence. It is our responsibility to provide a prepared environment where the child can optimally develop. He/She needs the freedom to make choices and needs us and the environment to provide the limits. It is essential that we respect and humbly guide and follow the child. Daily we are amazed by the power and wonder that the child has.