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Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952)


Biography
Maria Montessori was a 20th Century pioneer in education, the founder of the Montessori approach to education, was born in Italy in 1870. As a teenager she was determined to become an engineer, but later abandoned that idea in favour of studying medicine. Graduating as Italy's first female medical practitioner she embarked on a career in mental health.

This brought her into contact with children diagnosed as educationally subnormal, and excluded from the educational system. She devised special apparatus to help them learn through movement and achieved some remarkable results.

Soon, Maria Montessori decided to widen her work to "normal" children. The extent of her success was such that she realized that if her method worked so well with deficient children, it would surely also benefit all children. In 1907, she opened her first school, Casa de Bambini, in San Lorenzo. Soon, many more schools opened in Italy, as in other countries, and her work became known as the "The Montessori Method".

Responding to demands to explain her 'method' Montessori began to write about her discoveries and to train people to work with children the way she advocated. From this time onward education became her life and she continued to develop educational theories to fit what she observed among the children in her care.

In 1929, Maria Montessori founded the Association Montessori Internationale to continue her work. She spent the rest of her life advocating for children, their rights, and acknowledging their importance as hope for future world peace.

For the rest of her life she travelled extensively, training, teaching and lecturing around the world, increasingly convinced that it was only through effective education of the rising generation that universal peace could ever become a reality. She died in Holland in 1952, leaving an international legacy of Montessori schools and training centres around the world, all following the Montessori approach, transcending cultures, faiths, linguistic traditions and political systems.

By the time of her death in 1952, Maria Montessori's recognition was worldwide.
She obtained numerous awards, and was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Recommended Reading:
The following books by Dr. Maria Montessori and Dr. Maria Montessori provide essential background reading.

• The Absorbent Mind
• The Secret of Childhood
• The Discovery of the Child
• The Formation of Man
• To Educate the Human Potential
• Advanced Montessori Method - Book 1
• Education For Human Development

WHAT IS A MONTESSORI EDUCATION?
This is a frequently asked question. Montessori education is not just an education, it is a philosophy, a way of thinking that focuses on trust and respect for the child. A Montessori education provides an enabling environment that allows children to gain experience learning using all the senses, including the use of special materials designed to foster practical skills or refine the senses.

ITS ORIGINS
The Montessori Approach to education developed out of the observations carried out by Maria Montessori at the beginning of the 20th century in her work with socially deprived children which she then replicated with children throughout the world.

HOW THE MONTESSORI APPROACH IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER EDUCATIONAL METHODS
The Montessori Approach is underpinned by the essential principle that learning is inseparable from development, and so education centres on each child as a unique individual. Children in Montessori schools become motivated and responsible for their own learning.


WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WERE THE KEY BENEFITS OF A MONTESSORI EDUCATION COMPARED TO OTHER EARLY YEARS SETTINGS?

The key benefits of a Montessori education are that it is an enabling environment that truly follows the child, waiting for individual signs of readiness towards progress. It fosters independence and an ability to stay focused which are so important for starting school. Montessori education has stayed true to a set of child-centred principles and a core philosophy for over a century.

Further readings

Montessori Uncovered - see more (pdf file)

Why Chose Montessori - see more (pdf file)

"The child is truly a miraculous being, and this should be felt deeply by the educator".
(Maria Montessori)