Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




The purpose of this study was to discover, compare and to elucidate the philosophical inclinations of Maria Montessori, A. S. Neill, and Marva Collins; to identify the similarities and differences among their views and to discover any common elements or teaching strategies which might have contributed to their success with the academic, emotional, and social achievement of students. In addition, the study was designed to compare the personal and professional development of the three educators. Given common elements, educators will find the study of these elements useful in researching, developing, expanding and mobilizing their own strong beliefs into effective teaching behaviors;Autobiographies, biographies and other documents were reviewed in order to show evidence as to how each educator's personal and professional experiences as a learner and strong beliefs and expectations about learners influenced their actual classroom interactions and behaviors;The investigation confirmed the expected differences in personal and professional backgrounds, instructional methods and curriculum used. Two major common elements were found: (1) The educators' positive beliefs about students' potential for learning and (2) their willingness to develop corresponding classroom environments and atmospheres, instructional methodologies, and curricula based upon those beliefs;It was concluded that, though the three educators were vastly different in philosophical inclinations and professional practices, they were quite alike in a most important aspect of the education process--they expected the students to learn and based their actions upon that expectation. Further, it was suggested that (1) having a philosophical perspective that includes an unshakable belief in the intrinsic capabilities of the learner, and consistently using formal and informal instructional methods that are responsive to and considerate of the learner, will enhance the social emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth of both the teacher and the students.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Loretta Powell C. Davenport



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113 pages