Dr. Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori – The Educator

Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Chiaravalle in Italy and much to her parent’s dislike she chose to study to become a doctor, a profession at this time that was very much male orientated whereas her parents had hoped she would become a teacher. She eventually overcame the prejudices of the late 19th century and in 1890 she attended medical school.

Maria Montessori was to become the first woman doctor of medicine in Italy and during her time practicing as a doctor she also volunteered to work in the psychiatric clinic of the University of Rome where she encountered children who had been put into the asylum amongst the criminally insane purely because it was deemed that they couldn’t function in schools or in their families. It was here that Maria Montessori first had the idea that the path to intellectual development is through the hands.

“The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”

Maria Montessori took the principle ideas of Education of the Senses and Education of Movement and adapted them and developed them into a system that became her own. During her voyage of discovery she read and studied all of the major works on education for the previous two hundred years and it was when she had gathered all of this information that she then started to develop The Montessori Method.

During 1899 Maria Montessori was involved in the establishment of the Orthophrenic School in Rome where she spent two years and during these years she worked very closely with the children observing and experimenting using different materials and methods.

While preparing for a life in education Maria Montessori travelled around and visited many schools observing both the methods used and the reactions of the children and on the most part what she observed she found to be most appalling. It was these observations that turned her attention to the importance of the school environment and the role it plays in changing the child’s behaviour.

During 1906 Maria Montessori was asked to organise the infant schools being built in a slum clearance and rehousing project where she established her first school that would house children from 3 – 6 years of age. This school was in a large tenement house in San Lorenzo and she called it “Casa dei Bambini” which translates as The Children’s House.

Throughout the following two years other Children’s Houses were founded and Maria Montessori applied her methods and it was proved that her methods were much superior to the conventional teaching of her day.

Dr. Montessori designed materials and techniques which allowed her children to work in areas previously considered beyond their capacity. Dr. Montessori’s great triumph came when these children took State examinations along with other children, and her children passed the exams.

Dr. Maria Montessori’s hopes were realized.

Dr. Montessori died in 1952. Today, after so many years of international application, the Montessori approach thrives worldwide.