Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori Method of Education
Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was born in Italy at a time when society held very conservative attitudes toward women. Encouraged by her parents to pursue her education, she became among the first women in Italy to graduate from medical school.
Montessori was particularly interested in children and how they learn. Through intensive observation, and further studies in psychology, philosophy and anthropology, she determined that children essentially taught themselves by absorbing information from their environment. Montessori believed that by preparing the proper environment, even children from the most disadvantaged circumstances could succeed.
This led her to establish a school for very young children. She created a place that was calm and orderly, where children took care of themselves and helped each other. This school became the model for hundreds of thousands of others around the world today.
Montessori developed a learning environment that calls to the unfolding intellect and personality of the child. The order within the classroom offers stability and structure to the child. It also allows children to progress at their own pace, according to their individual abilities and interests. Because they are allowed to explore freely a variety of activities, Montessori students generally develop a positive attitude toward learning and tend to be independent, self-directed, motivated and responsible.
Finally, the classroom materials, many of them invented by Dr. Maria Montessori herself more than 100 years ago, help children learn basic skills and habits. They are concrete items for hands-on exploration and often beautifully illustrate complex concepts. In addition to appealing to the sensory-motor needs of the young children, they guide older children toward abstract thinking and the development of logical thought.