Who was Maria Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori was an amazing and accomplished woman. She was an Italian physician, scientist and experimenter, innovator, feminist, social reformer, peace advocate and world renowned educator. She is most known for her educational method which is based on her observations of the way children naturally learn. Born in the town of Chiaravalle in 1870, Maria Montessori became the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy, having graduated from the University of Rome Medical School in 1896. Her subsequent clinical observations and her work with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities led her to discover how children learn and how they construct themselves from what they find in their immediate surroundings. What ultimately became the Montessori Method of education was based upon these initial scientific observations. Every aspect of her method including specific equipment, and exercises were developed based on what she observed children to do “naturally,” without the interference of adults. She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907. Astounded by the results of these first students, Montessori and her method of education became a global phenomenon. Subsequently, she traveled the world and wrote extensively about her approach to education, attracting many followers around the globe.
Montessori’s discovery that children teach themselves became the simple but profound truth that inspired her lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training-based on her dedication to furthering the understanding of the child and the learning process. She believed deeply that the way to transform the world and create lasting peace was through the enlightened education of children. Nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, she was honored and respected throughout the world by the time of her death in 1952. Over a century later, her work continues in schools throughout the world.