History of Montessori

Caption: Maria Montessori in Italy, 1952.

The story of Montessori begins with one remarkable woman–

Maria Montessori, the first woman medical doctor in Italy, was one of the great pioneers in the study of child development. Upon graduation from Rome Medical School in 1896, she worked with mentally deficient children, many of whom were then able to pass the standard educational exams of the time.

Dr. Montessori applied rigorous scientific study to her observations and in 1908 began her innovative approach with a group of children in the slum area of San Lorenzo in Rome. Within a year, her accomplishments with these children earned world wide acclaim and became a landmark in the education of young children. She trained a generation of teachers and wrote 25 books on her theory and practice.

Today Montessori schools flourish all over the world–

Montessori education is based on beliefs about human development and human relationships and incorporates practices to facilitate teaching and learning. Respect is fundamental — respect for each person, for the environment and for life. Respect leads to trust, which is essential for learning and growth. Learning and teaching are inseparable, as are self, family, and the world community.

In the Montessori approach, children are given ample time and opportunities to explore and work at their own pace and in their own learning style. Classroom activities are designed to encourage involvement, autonomy and risk-taking. As children make choices and get involved with their work, they acquire a positive attitude toward learning that sets the foundation for all schooling and for life.