Preschools in India are often also called Montessori schools. Montessori is a style of schools wherein the students stay with the same teacher for a period of three years.
It’s named after Maria Montessori, a renowned children’s educator from Italy. But how did Montessori schooling come to India? The credit for this goes to a man from Mysuru, S. Paul Chinnappa.
Who Was Paul Chinnappa?
Paul Chinnappa was born on 14th April 1880. He studied in the Methodist Boarding School in Mysuru and completed his Bachelor’s degree at the Government Central College in Bengaluru.
In 1909 he joined the Mysore state’s education service as an assistant teacher in a Bengaluru secondary school. His career progressed and he soon found himself appointed as the headmaster.
Paul Chinnappa And Montessori
Chinnappa’s dedication to teaching students was recognized by the erstwhile Raja of Mysore and he was selected to travel to Italy and study under the guidance of Maria Montessori. He set sail on January 19th, 1913 and thus became the first Indian to be tutored in this style of education.
Some years later, Maria Montessori would travel to India and say that it was Chinnappa who inspired her to do so.
After completing his Montessori training, Chinnappa continued his education at the University of Chicago in Illinois. Here he earned a Masters in Education.
The step was a Ph.D. in 1915 from Colombia University. His thesis for the Ph.D. was titled the British System of Education in India, and later published as a book
On his return to Bengaluru, Paul Chinnappa started working for the Mysore State Education Department and with time rose to become the Deputy Director of Public Instructions.
It was around this time that he wrote an article about the Montessori style of education. The article was published in one of the leading newspapers at the time.
Paul partnered with his sister Grace Pichamuthu to develop an education system in the state along the lines of the Montessori style.
Montessori In India
Over 20 years after Chinnappa travelled to Italy, Maria Montessori traveled to India to build on the Montessori style of schooling. By then, there were already a number of preschools and schools in India that educated students according to the Montessori style.
During her stay in India, she founded the Indian Montessori Training Course. The Indian Montessori Center was also established with chapters in Chennai, Karnataka and Gurgaon.
Today, many children begin their scholastic journeys at a Montessori school. Though Chinnappa and Maria Montessori are both no longer alive, the legacy they left behind acts as the foundation for school learning.
There is also a residential layout in Bangalore named after Paul Chinnappa.
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