Montessori

I have never considered myself a teacher who follows one specific philosophy.  I have worked at all sorts of schools, from my first job in a "Reggio-Inspired" school to a Washington State ECEAP program to Parent Cooperatives to an International school.  No school has had a strict curriculum, but some have had some "guides" and materials.

One philosophy that I know very little about is Montessori.  It seems like such a buzzword - for example, in Brussels, the only English language preschools are Montessori, and there are dozens of them.  I have seen and worked with Montessori materials, which are often made of natural materials rather than plastic.  I know that children often work on their own with materials, which are created to be used in a particular way.

The Wikipedia page on the Montessori method is interesting, and I was stuck by this :  "Schools differ in their interpretation, practical application, and philosophy in using this method with children."  So, are parents signing their children up for Montessori education because the name "Montessori" is on the door?  Is it the same way for "Reggio-Inspired"?  And when a school posts these words on their door, what do they mean to the teachers?  What does it mean to their families?

With all of the inspiration I have found from different schools with different ideas, I still have not learned about Montessori.  Perhaps someone out there has some insights into this...what do you think?